My five wishes for agility in Japan in 2023

Hi network,
I was in the mood to write tonight, and I decided to write down my five wishes 🙏 for agility in Japan in 2023. A little raw but there you go.

1. Less big contracts upfront – more agile contracts

Too many companies still spend the first few months of every project writing detailed specifications and negotiating the details of lengthy contracts and proposals with their vendors, in an attempt to minimize risk. Often, they realize later that things work out differently from what they wanted or expected. When they “reflect” on what went wrong, the only lesson they learn is to “plan better next time” 😢🤷 

In 2023, I hope people become more comfortable with agile ways to collaborate with their vendors and agencies. In particular, a few things that have worked for me and others ¹ ² ³:

① Client and vendor co-create product vision, goal and backlog together 🤝

② Client and vendor estimate the product backlog together 🔢 – without aiming for perfection

③ Start small (e.g. first payment is only for 1 or 2 sprints) 🌀

④ Write contracts 📝 that enable the client to: 

  • make changes to the requirements
  • terminate the contract early when sufficient value is achieved 

2. Happier developers

I use the term developer broadly here, but the programmers, testers, designers, etc. those who actually solve the problems and create the products that generate value for customers and stakeholders deserve better working environments. Specifically, I believe that they deserve more respect and autonomy than what many companies are able to give them. Not only is it always depressing to see disempowered, disengaged, unhappy people at work, but it is also bad for business.

3. Less “Transformation” and more continuous evolution

“Transformations” assume a pre-defined end state. Embracing agility and becoming better at delighting customers are better described as continuous evolutions.

In 2023, I hope that Japanese companies focus on creating ways of working that help them learn and evolve, rather than creating transformation roadmaps with KPIs for number of Scrum teams stood up, number of certifications passed, or number of JIRA projects created.

4. A better understanding of Scrum

Scrum is great!!! … at dealing with the kind of situations it has been designed to deal with. I wish for 2023 that we become better at recognizing a complex problem when we see one – so that we can better decide what kind of approach we need.

Also, Scrum is not a silver bullet – it is a framework. The people, their interactions, the environment they live in and the practices that they use are paramount. My other wish for 2023 is therefore that we learn to practice Scrum more effectively (more Professionally maybe?) instead of merely going through the motion.

5. Less one-off training and more ongoing learning

Solving complex problems effectively, developing software, being a Scrum Master, a leader, you name it, these things take time to learn. Also, there is no end to the pursuit of excellence because any definition of “excellence” rapidly becomes obsolete as new data emerges, new techniques are discovered, new technologies are created, and our environment changes.

I wish people adopt a long-term perspective to their personal development and the development of their teams. While there is value in a standardized 2 day training (otherwise I would not be offering this service), I believe a lot in other approaches such as mentoring, supervision, and the power of communities. 📚💪

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to personally contribute to the realization of these wishes yet, but I’ll try and do my modest share of the work.

Oh, happy new year everyone 💛!

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