Yes, it’s an old approach, but it’s new to me. Over the last five years, I have helped a number of different teams transform their delivery capability by introducing Agile methodologies and techniques.
From the time I graduated from good old Ball U., I have applied a variety of techniques, processes, and practices (collectively defined as “tools”) as required by the objective I was trying to reach. Discarding what didn’t work and keeping what did, I have accumulated an arsenal of tools that work for me in a manner that I comfortable and confident. With a career covering a number of years, technologies, and cultural swings, I am constantly researching new areas, looking for different and better ideas that will help those around me.
As I do my own research for beLithe, I try to be objective and keep my personal biases out of the review. I don’t want my own fears and personal flaws (I don’t think I have any!) getting in the way of a new idea or approach. Once, I decide to try an approach, I start by reminding myself about the concept of ShuHaRi.
Aikido master Endō Seishirō shihan stated:
“It is known that, when we learn or train in something, we pass through the stages of shu, ha, and ri. These stages are explained as follows. In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms that our forebears created. We remain faithful to these forms with no deviation. Next, in the stage of ha, once we have disciplined ourselves to acquire the forms and movements, we make innovations. In this process the forms may be broken and discarded. Finally, in ri, we completely depart from the forms, open the door to creative technique, and arrive in a place where we act in accordance with what our heart/mind desires, unhindered while not overstepping laws.”
By following the approach or idea (the Shu phase), I want to have the experience or the feeling of embracing the idea or approach.
Once I have mastered the approach, then I can start looking objectively at whether the idea or approach is doing what I expected (the Ha phase). Innovation can occur at this point. I will start an iterative cycle of:
- Planning what I am going to do
- Doing what I had planned
- Checking the results of what I did
- Adjusting what I am going to do the next time
Granted, the first few iterations are focused on execution. The good stuff happens when I get to the Checking phase. Being honest with myself and asking questions like:
- How I am doing?
- Is there a gap in my knowledge?
- Am I avoiding doing things that make me uncomfortable?
- Did I position this wrong?
- Am I seeing the results I expected?
tends to bring out the best and worst of me. I struggle past the ego-maniac (the worst) in me to get to what is working, what’s not working, and what can I do to improve (the best). By sticking to the “By the Book” approach, I am forcing myself to not rationalize the failures, but to acknowledge my own flaws (huh?) and inexperience and learn from them.
After a while, I tend to get a pretty good grasp on what works and what doesn’t. At this point, I tend to feel confident about what I the idea or approach, and can often share with others. It almost becomes second nature. Most of the time, I feel like I am in the Ri phase when it comes to leading software development groups and teaching/coaching/implementing Agile. If you ask some of my teammates, they may disagree with me.
As I continue to use the various tools I have assembled, I am adopting a Lean approach at a personal level. I constantly in the process of a PDCA cycle, doing more of what has worked while kicking what doesn’t work to the curb.
While ShuHaRi works for me, it might not work for everybody. Give ShuHaRi a shot by being ShuHaRi.
Thanks for coming in today.