I am not a big fan of Shu Ha Ri

As a metaphor for stages of learning it’s not bad. But even then it’s not a great metaphor. Let’s consider in the martial arts we’re trying to suppress our mind and learn certain moves. A collection of methods will let us chose the right moves from our repertoire. In knowledge work, we’re doing different things and wanting to engage our minds. I prefer to teach by:

  1. tailor an approach for the context to meet the common objectives
  2. teach this approach that will work for people and illustrate how they manifest objectives and are following principles
  3. continuously improve by planning, doing, studying the result, adjusting your understanding of what’s happening and improving your process.

I don’t ever ask my clients to trust me and just do “shu.” It’s not only demeaning (unintentionally), but it limits options for learning and takes the client’s ideas out of the picture.

I also don’t like the way many Scrum consultants say “do shu” and then if people can’t figure out how they blame them. Consultants also tell them “you need to go to ‘ha’ even though the Scrum guide provides no guidance on this. Again, blame is given if their charges can’t figure out how

See Why Shu Ha Ri and Scrum Can Make for a Dangerous CombinationĀ 

Also, see The Samurai and the Tea Master for an interesting history of Shu Ha Ri.

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