Tony O'Halloran

Tony O'Halloran

Tony uses his background in development to bridge the gap between IT and the rest of the business. He’s an Agile coach and facilitator who’s not afraid to address dysfunction, but always brings positivity and a sense of fun to his work. He is a terrible ukulele player and fearless mountain biker.

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Articles by Tony

The Dark Side of Agile Coaching - are Agile Coaches doing harm?

May 30, 2019

Recently I’ve heard more and more stories of newly minted Agile Coaches crossing the lines between coaching* and counselling during 1:1 coaching sessions - that shit has to stop! It’s creepy, irresponsible and dangerous - mental wellbeing is not something to play around with. Since the roles of Agil... continue reading How can I make sure I stay on track?... continue reading 1. Learn more If Professional Coaching is your thing, look for training from a body like the ICF or ICC, or read more about it in Co-Active Coaching, The Coach's Casebook and others... continue reading 2. Set boundaries Establish clear boundaries at the outset. Make sure the coachee also knows the difference between coaching and counseling, allow them to hold you to account. Find out what the topic of the session is up-front. If it’s something that you feel falls outside the boundaries of profess... continue reading 3. Know when to stop If you feel like you’re breaching the boundary of professional coaching, check in with the coachee and get things back on track. If what they need is counselling, then suggest that to them and support them in finding the help they need. If anything is discussed that you feel i... continue reading 4. Get a mentor Have an experienced coach shadow you during coaching conversations. Actively seek out feedback around how you created and maintained the boundaries of the session.... continue reading 5. Share the message Help your fellow coaches know about the difference between therapy, counseling and coaching. Spread the word! Many groups are beginning to talk about the ethics of Agile Coaching, why not start the discussion in yours?... continue reading * For the purposes of this article, I’ll be talking about professional 1:1 Agile coaching. Although there are other types of professional coaching like life coaching, career coaching and sports coaching (amongst others) - I don’t know anything about them so I won’t discuss them here. Team coaching... continue reading

Challenging Team Agility using White Elephant Principles

Nov 13, 2018

Has your team ever felt like things are going stale? Do you worry that you’re beginning to rest on your laurels? None of the greatest teams I’ve experienced ever think that “good enough” is good enough. Here’s a handy way to collectively challenge each other to improve in a constructive way. This ca... continue reading Next, explain the rules. Everyone on the team will take turns doing one of the following: Picking up a card, and placing it somewhere on the poster on the spectrum of “we do this well” vs “we need to work on this” with a one-sentence explanation of whyMoving a card that’s already been placed on the... continue reading Often, the first round can largely be a non-event – look for surface-level discussions and a tendency to play safe. Set an expectation that the team will only get as much out of the exercise as they put in – now is the time to be brave and to aim high. The real value of the exercise comes when the t... continue reading

Creating Working Agreements that are actually useful

Sep 28, 2018

Working Agreements, Team Norms, Team Charters… Call them what you want, they’re great in theory but in practise they can be awkward to come up with and difficult to implement. Committing to “don’t be a dick” and “respect each other” is well and good, but it’s pretty much implied. We shouldn't need a... continue reading

How to Avoid Waste - a Lean Retrospective

Aug 14, 2017

In Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash Mary and Tom Poppendieck categorised waste encountered in software development into: Partially Done Work Is work going from beginning to end in a single rapid flow? For example; are you building up large amounts of untested or undeploye... continue reading

Role Expectation Mapping Canvas

Mar 27, 2017

Role Expectation Mapping is a process described by the awesome Jimmy Janlén designed to aid collaboration and help a team work through mismatches in understanding of each other’s roles. I came across Jimmy's article recently when working with a small team who were struggling with what they could and... continue reading

Helping Teams Deal with Conflict

Mar 15, 2017

The retrospective ended with two team members storming out of the room in opposite directions, two others toe-to-toe in heated dispute and Leah, the Product Owner handing out orders to whoever would listen. I started to realise how stuck this team actually was... Over the few previous days I’d witne... continue reading

What to Do when Organisational Impediments are Slowing you Down?

Mar 01, 2017

Picture the scene: Your team is regularly coming together to focus on improving how they work but the same overarching problems seem to be the root cause every time. Worse still, these issues are perceived as being outside the direct control of the team. Your instinct and experience tell you that al... continue reading

Time for a Change in Principles?

Oct 07, 2016

As Agilists, our principles and values underpin the way we work and decisions we make. A good principle should be timeless and non-prescriptive enough to be valid across many contexts, but specific enough to add practical value and help us make decisions. I feel that one Agile Manifesto principle in... continue reading

Is Talking to Users Enough?

Aug 23, 2016

Recently a friend of mine formed a startup with a goal of making the One-On-One Meeting an easier and more valuable process. Their aim was to help managers and their direct reports easier handle the goals and issues that arise from these sessions. The assumption they made was that their customers (p... continue reading