Shu Ha Ri

It’s great when something clicks.  Personally, professionally, for your team and for an organization.  When a team gets into a performing place, it’s pretty awesome to see.  As a Scrum Master, it’s rewarding beyond words.  The first time it happened for me, I wasn’t even aware of what had happened.  I was worried for myself because the team didn’t really need me any longer and year-end performance management was looming.  The team didn’t me.  Wait.  The team doesn’t need me.  WOOT!!!!!  They did it!

In this Agile transformation, I see teams going their own way right off the bat.  Then, I hear them talking about the “overhead” of being Agile and that Stand Up isn’t helpful to them at all.  “It’s just another way to micro-manage us”.   They would be more productive if not for Agile.  Agile isn’t working.

Shu – Follow the rule.  Follow the rule until you know it, understand it and it works.

Ha – Question the rule.  You understand the value and start to formulate your own views.  You try different approaches.

Ri – Be the rule.  You have mastered it.

If teams would go through the effort of learning Scrum and Agile, I believe they would feel differently.  Scratch that.  I KNOW they would feel differently.  Teams can get to Ri, but not before they go through Shu and Ha.  As a Scrum Master, there’s an obligation you have to your team to teach them the rule and help them understand it.  Be supportive when they begin questioning it and trying different things on for size.

When starting out, making sure the Shu state isn’t overlooked is critical.  If Agile isn’t working for the organization, maybe it’s because it was never really even attempted.


5 thoughts on “Shu Ha Ri

  1. Thanks for the alternate POV. Your post struck me as geared towards folks making money off this in some way. I haven’t looked at it from that POV before. I’m coming from a place of not understanding the basics and why they’re there and moving right towards customization and FINALLY blaming Agile for what’s not working. I do believe there’s value in walking before you run, but the pace is all individual. The Shu stage would be critical to a new team forming or an organization transforming. As an example, I never understood the value of estimating stories. I tried it with a team several times, but they didn’t see the value either (the reason is a whole different post). So, lately, with teams we have been estimating and what’s valuable isn’t the estimate but the conversation the team has to reach an estimate and the amount of time learning what the others bring to the table and value. It makes for better planning and the team knows where they all stand. Shu complete. Moving on to Ha….It took about 4 weeks for the team to question it. Not a waste of time or money to me. I’d like to know more about what prompted your post. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Sure – my post wasn’t just about people making money on it, it has to do with the points you bring up in your post here as well.

      To me, daily scrums ARE (usually) micromanagement. There IS a lot of overhead in Scrum, etc.

      Trying to sweep that under the rug and deny valid criticism by saying that the objectors are not Shuhari enough is grossly inappropriate, and is something that has been used to suppress dissent in Agile for a long time.

      Of course the money angle feeds into that quite nicely…but it’s not the sole driver of Shuhari being a con job imho…

      I feel the Agile community should start listening to valid critcism and not just using a knee jerk response that the objectors “don’t know enough to comment”.

      Thanks for your comments as well!

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