Breaking the Kata cycle with Curiosity

Recently I came across Hakan Forss’s blog post on What is a Kata?

The following is an exert from this post:

“You learn and evolve a Kata through the three stages of the learning cycle Shu (learn), Ha (break) and Ri (create). In the first stage Shu, you learn by following the teacher. You imitate the teacher’s practices, values and thinking. You will only move on to the next stage when you have made the teacher’s Kata your own. In the Ha stage, you break from the teacher’s practices and make modifications based on your own creativity. In the Ri stage, you leave the teacher and you start creating your own unique Kata. As you expand your knowledge into new areas, you will loop back to the Shu stage for those areas in an ever-growing spiral of knowledge.”

http://www.bigvisible.com/2012/10/shuhari-agile-adoption-pattern/
http://www.bigvisible.com/2012/10/shuhari-agile-adoption-pattern/

The interesting part for me is “You will only move on to the next stage when you have made the teacher’s Kata your own”.
I recently came across a situation where eager engineers followed the frameworks set out by Scrum by the letter, sometimes using these guidelines as a stick to beat others over the head with when they were not followed. But like all frameworks and rules, there are always exceptions and they should never be blindly followed.

Although this shows great learning and knowledge of the process and makes you appear to serve the greater good of the customer, it does comes with pitfalls if you don’t have the curiosity. You may come across conflicts between those that want to follow the process because they are told it has value but don’t understand why and those who don’t follow the process because they don’t understand why they should.

It is often the latter that comes out as the agitator or the bad guy but this is not always the case. This behavior maybe demonstrating something you do want in your staff and illustrates an ability to progress through the 3 stages of learning.

Whenever you follow any process the curiosity inside you should always be asking “Why?”, leading to a true understanding. It is this step that should lead you to “break from the teacher’s practices and make modifications based on your own creativity”.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” – Dalai Lama XIV

If you observe your team exhibiting this behavior, don’t always assume they are out to be obstructive. Ensure all your team understand why we perform the practices that we hold important.

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