Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shu-Ha-Ri (Knowledge, Understanding and Skill)

InfoQ has picked up on a couple of blog post by Jim Shore recently. One where he speculates that Kanban and Lean approaches are viable alternatives to methodologies like Scrum and XP. Another where he says that Agile is in decline.

All the terms in italics in the above paragraph are just labels. Labels are just a convenient way to categories things. What we all would do well to remember is that in the words of Hayakawa: "the label is not the thing". Just because something is labeled Agile doesn't mean that it is an actual instance of the thing the original advocates had in mind. The Japanese understand this, and have developed a method of learning where they recognise different levels of mastery over the thing that is being taught. Shu-Ha-Ri, or roughly translated: Knowledge, Understanding and Skill. Just because some one knows the label it doesn't mean that they understand the thing. And just because they understand a specific instance of the thing, it doesn't mean that they have the skill to improvise and create a new instance of the same thing in a new context.

Categorising things and applying labels to them is a practice that is full of pitfalls. I will be posting more on this subject in the near future.

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