Kaizen To Karoshi - sustainable pace and performance in teams

A 60 minute Case Study by:

John Clapham


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The slides used for this session are available to download here.

About this Case Study

This lively session draws to together a number of themes under the umbrella of sustainable working practices, aiming to enable leaders and coaches to set a sustainable pace and individuals to adopt one for themselves.

John Clapham (Cotelic) presents a case for why we need to consider these things, and how agile methods won't automatically take care of them for us. The talk suggests practical techniques and methods to monitor and change.

Key themes include:

  • the impact of change programs and change fatigue
  • danger zones for agile methods in terms of sustainability
  • engagement and burnout
  • managing energy, not time
  • different thinking styles and their needs
  • monitoring pace

Agile folk love notions borrowed from Japanese manufacturing, like Kaizen ('continuous improvement"). From the perspective of teams expected to transform, continuous may also mean relentless, ceaseless, unsustainable.

Overplayed principles and constant collaboration can make it hard to find space to think and recharge. Coaches gaze deep into our souls, retros wring us for insight and apps ruthlessly interrupt our flow.

Despite best intentions, without care, agile methods are just as likely, perhaps more likely, to lead to withdrawal and burnout. Taken to the extreme, the Japanese have another notion; KarĊshi, meaning "overwork death".

John looks at what makes agile and changing teams susceptible to burnout. The session aims to help develop a sustainable pace of both change and delivery for yourself and the team around you. It suggests ways to monitor and identify warning signs, and what to do when you encounter them.

About the Speaker

John Clapham is an independent coach, trainer and consultant. He specialises in team coaching and continuous delivery, including agile and DevOps. He helps teams to build great products, and organisations learn to become more effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. His broad experience in software development ranges from start-up to enterprise scale, formed in the publishing, telecommunications, commerce, defense and public sector arenas.


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