Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shuhari and Scrum

A discussion at agileindia forum on this topic was so enlightening, I felt it should be recorded here too for the benefit of all others not on this forum.

In the context of our discussions on this "Scrum for Waterfall" I had said :

......I am only pained when I see people embrace Agile without knowing what they are trying to achieve by doing so and practice it more as a "ceremony" . In such cases they are not able to understand the imperatives, implications and consequences of Agile......

To which one of the learned members in the forum responded:

..... I believe some of it is caused by a Shu level person heading a 'Ri' level operation. I hope an organization that is about to embrace agile employs a Ri level person or at least learn from and have one to guide at all times. It isn't bad in the initial stages of adoption to practice it as a ceremony as long as it is guided by someone who understands the implications.

Here is what I responded to his post which I wish to preserve here for others to read.

.......Your post on "Shuhari" has been a real eye opener for me in understanding why people doing Agile upside down, do it that way. I surely would like to pass this credit to you for sharing your views on it that has truly enhanced my wisdom... if I have any :)

I have seen many Western Agile Evangelists comparing Martial Arts to Agile and try to cut-copy-paste their approaches into the way we learn to do Agile.

Here is my 2 cents on it.

When you become a student of any martial-art, you first undergo a highly rigorous training on the basic Values, Principles and Practices of the martial art under a teacher, who is more seen as a tyrant. In such schools, students learn under the direct supervision of a teacher, for several hours a day, for several years, to master their learning of it. These schools more look like concentration camps. (Shu )

Once the teacher feels that you have learnt the art correctly, you are allowed now to practice the martial art, you graduate and you now leave the teacher and go on your own to apply your learning in real-time scenarios. You use your learning in a manner that suits the context of its use, strictly within its value system, and you start empirically evolving your own strategies and approaches to overcome your enemy in different situations and contexts. (Ha)

After years of such practice and success, your learning and approaches become your reflexes and now these competencies can be used naturally. This highest stage of mastery is also called "Unconscious Competence" and your skills are naturally ingrained in your action, reactions and deeds. (Ri).

Now my question to you is:

Where have the agile developers gone through the Shu, and Ha stages before they think they are operating in a Ri stage of maturity. ( My answer to this would be: The two day CSM course under a CST is the Shu stage, After becoming a CSM, you first failed agile project is your Ha stage, therefore now in your next Agile Project you think you are operating in a Ri stage, so you need a Ri level coach. I agree. But I cannot run my company on this basis and still satisfy my customers and make profits consistently.

Similarly guys who pass a Black-Belt certification examination in Six Sigma feel that they are now in the Ri stage.(Sorry.
.they are no where near it)

A lot of guys have become "Agile Evangelists" and preach/teach Agile and Scrum without ever having written one line of code. Ask them to teach you "Incremental Architecture"
, "Evolving Design", "Test Driven Development", "Refactoring" (refactoring of architecture, design, code and tests) and "Continuous Integration" principles first before they talk Agile or Scrum to you. Most of them will run away or disappear instantly.

How do you expect to learn to do Agile anyway at the Shu and Ha stages from them and expect to operate at a "Ri" stage with your eyes, ears closed and standing on one leg on the tip of a pole.

Spend some time and introspect on what I am trying to say here, and we may have some ray of hope for Agile to survive in the near term at least.

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