Podcast Ep. 54: The Concept of Shu Ha Ri and Why It’s Important to Agile Adoption with Che Ho

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Episode Description:

In today’s episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner Podcast, host Dan Neumann is joined by Che Ho. Che Ho is leading an agile transformation for the County of Santa Clara, California. He also recently got certified as a Scrum Master Professional through Agile Alliance and is a martial arts instructor for Wing Chun. He’s been studying it since he was 10 and has be teaching it for about 20 years.

Speaking of martial arts, the topic today directly relates to it. Shu Ha Ri is a concept that comes from Japanese martial arts’ Kata (AKA forms) and is a fantastic tool for agile coaches in their approach to agile adoption. In this episode, Dan and Che Ho completely break down the concept of Shu Ha Ri to make it just a little more tangible.

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Key Takeaways:

  • What is Shu Ha Ri?
    • Shu Ha Ri is not levels, nor is it a self-contained stage that you go through
    • The description of Shu Ha Ri comes from the Japanese martial arts’ Kata (AKA forms)
    • Shu Ha Ri is similar to a pyramid; each phase supports one another and one cannot exist without the other
    • It’s simply a way to look at a maturity level which can help with agile adoption
  • Breaking down Shu Ha Ri:
    • The “Shu” phase:
      • Shu is when you first start learning (it’s essentially like learning the alphabet and how to put things together)
      • Where you learn the “why”
      • The time for getting comfortable with the rhythm of things
    • The “Ha” phase:
      • Ha is about playing with the techniques and stringing them together in your own unique way
      • You can begin to personalize within the framework
      • You can move off script as the framework is internalized
      • Motivation comes to light at this phase
    • The “Ri” phase:
      • Ri is the “ultimate mastery”—it’s described as the phase where the form no longer matters (it’s a “formless form”)
      • It’s more of a lifestyle—it becomes so ingrained in you that it just becomes the way that you are rather than something that you do
      • The activity becomes organic
      • Through this, you create ways that are uniquely yours and you can become playful with it
      • A lot of experimentation can signify a Ri level of maturity
      • Ri is when you become so comfortable with what’s going on that it just becomes you; and you’re free to innovate, create and experiment
  • How to address resistance to Shu Ha Ri:
    • First, don’t take it personally—as Che Ho says, “They’ve honed their habits over decades to get to the success where they’re at now—so of course they’re going to resist changing it.”
    • Address the “why” for the change
    • Remember: it takes time
    • You can only get so far studying by yourself, but a coach helps you get great
    • A study group can be a form of coaching if they are focused and have their intention set for growth and change
  • Che Ho’s key takeaways:
    • Shu Ha Ri is a way to bring people to the same understanding
    • Be sure to have patience with the change
    • Celebrate the small wins along the way
    • Instead of trying to achieve something, Shu Ha Ri should become an internalization and part of your being



Mentioned in this Episode


Che Ho’s Book Pick:

Transcript [This transcript is auto-generated and not completely accurate in its depiction of the English language or rules of grammar]

Intro: [00:03] Welcome to Agile Coaches’ Corner by AgileThought. The podcast for practitioners and leaders seeking advice to refine the way they work and pave the path to better outcomes. Now here’s your host, coach and agile expert, Dan Neumann.

Dan Neumann: [00:17]  Welcome to this episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast. I am Dan Newman and I’m excited today to be joined by Che Ho, who is somebody I met at the Agile2019 conference at the conference party. I think we are lining up for some barbecue somewhere. Is that correct, Che?

Che Ho: [00:33] Yep, that’s right. We were in a class together and then we bumped into each other again during that party, which was a lot fun.

Dan Neumann: [00:39]  It was a lot of fun. And you are leading an agile transformation for the County of Santa Clara, California. You’re also, you said you just got the Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master certification through Scrum Alliance, so congratulations. And you’re a martial arts instructor?

Che Ho: [00:56] I am, yes. I started when I was 10 studying the art of wing chun. Uh, some people may know that as, uh, what Bruce Lee started, uh, studying. Um, and yeah, yeah. Bruce Lee started studying wing chun as one of the first martial arts he ever, uh, studied and he moved on of course. But, so I’ve been studying since I was 10 and I’ve been teaching wing chun for the past Oh 20 some odd years.

Dan Neumann: [01:27]  That’s very cool. It’s so kind of very dedicated to the craft.

Che Ho: [01:31] Yes. Lifestyle.

Dan Neumann: [01:33]  Lifestyle. Okay. Well then that’ll, I think that’ll fit well into what we were going to explore, which we had some conversation after the conference about it, which is this, the concept of Shuhari, which I only have admittedly a very limited understanding. I came across it in Lyssa Adkins book Coaching Agile Teams and she was citing work by Alistairr Cockburn or some stuff that he wrote. But I always kind of feel uncomfortable with it when I’ve encountered it in coaching situations cause I feel like it’s maybe over simplified or used as an excuse to not do some stuff in the Scrum Framework that people don’t want to do. So that’s, that’s kind of mine.

Che Ho: [02:14] Yeah. That’s actually really interesting, because I’ve read a lot of, um, articles and things like that about that exact same experience that you’re describing. Um, and, um, it kind of, you know, there’s something on my mind. Suddenly it’s like, Oh, maybe I should write another article, uh, with a different perspective, uh, because every article in every book that I’ve read, uh, of Shuhari in business talks about Shuhari as levels. And the way that they describe it is, um, almost self-contained. It’s a stage that you go through, uh, and coming from a martial arts background where, you know, where that, uh, description of Shuhari came from, right, was from a martial arts Kata or forms. Uh, and it comes from a Japanese, uh, Kata specifically, uh, and they say Shu is when you first start learning and you’re learning essentially the alphabet, how to put things together. Uh, and then you’re also learning why, um, why the letters come together to form certain words. And then, uh Ha, the, uh, the next recognition of maturation, right. Uh, is about playing with those words, putting the techniques, stringing them together in your own unique way. And then what they talk about Re the, uh, the ultimate mastery that they always talk about is, um, that one’s really hard to describe because they, they, they describe it as, um, the form no longer matters. Yeah. They say the form no longer matters. And in fact, it’s actually, um, Bruce Lee is quoted, uh, to, uh, say that he practices a formless form.

Dan Neumann: [04:29]  Yeah. So we’re, we’re on a video and so my eyebrows went up. I’m like, I don’t even know what a formless form would be. Maybe that’s like a framework-less agility or something along those lines.

Che Ho: [04:43] The way that I have experienced that myself, right, is actually how we started talking just now. Um, it’s more of a lifestyle. It, it becomes so ingrained in you that it, it just becomes the way that you are rather than something that you do.

Dan Neumann: [05:03]  That’s interesting. I think I’ll need to get baby steps towards that, which is good that you’re an instructor here because we’ll, we’ll make it, um, we’ll make it palatable, hopefully for myself and for folks who are listening. So Shu I think makes a lot of sense. You know, it’s, it’s learning the alphabet. So if I think of it from a Scrum coaching standpoint, it would be, Hey, here’s, we’re going to do the daily Scrum. Here’s, you know, the goal, the reasons, the why for doing the daily Scrum, the same thing for Sprint planning, et cetera, et cetera. So I see that applying really well to a framework like Scrum and then I could see maybe the playing with it being, um, iterating on different techniques for those events perhaps or, or bringing in more agile practices into the Scrum Framework. Cause Scrum not sufficient by itself to, to do things, to develop an increment rate. It typically pairs well with a lot of extreme programming practices. Um, and then I think of something like ultimate Mastery, almost like the, uh, I went to Woody Zuill’s session. I don’t want to call it a talk cause I don’t, that was my first time in the room with Woody and it was, um, and I mean this in a loving way. It was like sitting there and listening to Homer Simpson’s um, or grandpa Simpson talk a little bit, but it was like, it like, it was cool, like there was a ton of good content in there and I, I could just like listen to the stories forever. Like that’s probably not a great analogy or not a terribly flattering one, but what he said was valuable and it kind of, it just flowed. Um, but they ended up doing a mob programming and that emerged out of all the other stuff they were doing. It wasn’t that they set out to mob program. And I thought that was, that was an interesting talk to sit through.

Che Ho: [06:55] Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. And you know, I think that you’re, you’re right in the sense that, um, arriving at mob programming is kind of like what happens when you fully embody something, get so good at something that you can see, Oh, I can, I can do this. I can change this, this might work better. And you start becoming playful with it. Right? Instead of the way that I, you know, as you mentioned that I’m leading an agile transformation, uh, at the County of Santa Clara. Um, the beginning stages always feels like you’re shackled, you know, must do certain ways, you know, and um, it’s not until you become so good at it that, you know, it becomes part of the background. It’s just some stuff that you do. You’re so good at it. You go through all the motions, you go through the forms, uh, and then you can start creating things that are uniquely yours, such as mob programming.

Dan Neumann: [08:00]  Yeah, and I, to be fair, I should mention Chris Lucian also did a podcast with me on mob programming. He was there when that movement or that practice or that initiative was, was kind of forming too. So it was cool. So if folks are curious about the mob programming aspects, they can go and go listen to that. Yeah. And I hear you. You’d mentioned the shackles or the feeling of being constrained. And I think that’s a lot of times, unfortunately, how some folks feel the Scrum Framework is they’re saying, you know, gosh, we have to, we have all these meetings, which is usually a red herring. Um, we start pulling on it and the meetings that they’re complaining about have nothing to do with the Scrum Framework. So that’s an opportunity. And then maybe they’re either not being done effectively or there’s just some discomfort because they, they really were maybe more constrained in the approach that they were using before, a heavy requirements documents flowing slowly through the system and giving statuses of halfway done, 70% done, et cetera. And so now there’s a lot more transparency. There’s a lot more communication going on and it feels, um, different and uncomfortable constraining in a lot of ways.

Che Ho: [09:13] Yeah. The way that I actually look at that in a business sense, right, is that I don’t, as a coach myself and, and as an agile professional, um, I, I no longer feel, uh, personally attacked when that happens because, um, the way I learned to look at it is that they’ve honed their habits over decades to get to their success that they are at now. So of course they’re going to resist changing it. You know what I mean?

Dan Neumann: [09:51]  Yeah. So we are, we are learning to communicate with each other, having not done a podcast and, and, uh, limited times yet. So we’ll, we’ll navigate this together, right? Yeah. They’ve, other than a lot of times I try to make that clear in coaching. I would expect you to too, which is the change isn’t because you’re doing things poorly or it’s not a judgment on what you did to get here, which does beg the question then what’s the compelling why for the change?

Che Ho: [10:20] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And, um, the way that I had approached it here, it actually took a good two years to really get the County of Santa Clara going to be perfectly honest. Um, cause they went through what everybody goes through, which is, um, Oh yeah, Scrum is easy to understand, you know, so we can just do it ourselves. And that’s where my world of, you know, martial arts, uh, coaching and teaching and business coaching and teaching, uh, came together because you can only get so far studying by yourself. You know what I mean? So you can implement Scrum the way you think it should be implemented. But without a coach, you’re never really going to get that great at it unless you’re a savant. Of course, you know, it can happen. But you know, let’s face it, how many times does that happen?

Dan Neumann: [11:26]  Yeah. And that’s interesting that you mentioned the coach and then, so my brain went to, well the Agile Manifesto came out after folks were doing agility. Like they were agile, they distilled the principles and the values out of what they were doing. And when you said, you know, coaches can help lead to greatness or maybe even are necessary. Uh, I was reflecting on some of those relationships and I know several folks in that group, they’re sharing ideas, they’re coaching each other there. I would expect challenging each other formally or informally in some way. And and so I was thinking, well they didn’t have coaches but you know they kind of did just differently

Che Ho: [12:05] themselves. Yes, exactly. Correct. You know, and, and it, yeah, it’s really interesting when you look at it that way. You know, it’s a study group is a form of coaching, you know, as long as they have that intention to say what we’re doing needs to change, how should we change it?

Dan Neumann: [12:37]  So we’ve, we’ve, we started with the Shu and a little bit with the Ha and the Ri. I was wondering if you had other examples of maybe how that’s applied to either what you’re doing in martial arts or ideally something you’re doing with the County of Santa Clara. Maybe examples of that, and especially if you could help differentiate it between something that’s level based. Because I think, you know, you’re either a level one, two, three or you see am I a one through a five. Can you help maybe add some perspective to that?

Che Ho: [13:08] Yeah, I see Shuhari as more of, you know, a pyramid if you will. Each level supports the other. So one, you know, the level two, Ha, cannot exist without level one being solid.

Dan Neumann: [13:27]  So not just jumping into the, um, you know, we don’t need the rules kind of thing.

Che Ho: [13:32] Correct. Yeah. It just doesn’t work that way, you know, for true Mastery for, you know, especially, you know, in martial arts, right? Is that if you skip to, I could do whatever I want, you know, it’s just not going to work very well, you know? So, um, so yeah. So in terms of, uh, how that’s translated to the current transformation I’m leading here at the County of Santa Clara, um, right now they are just getting out of the Shu, uh, perspective. I would say. Um, there’s starting to no longer question, you know, why do we have to do it this way? The meetings they’re even starting to, uh, um, expand their meeting times, you know, because they’re, they’re saying we need to talk, you know, so we’re actually getting to follow the Scrum recommendations, uh, of, you know, two hours per week of Sprint, one hour per week of Sprint before they were like, Oh, you know, so many meetings, you know, so much time. We’re never going to get any work done. And now they’re kind of just going with it and they’re starting to feel okay. That’s why they recommend that time. So when that happens, when they know, when they kind of just get comfortable with the rhythm, I call it getting comfortable with the rhythm, that’s when they start moving, uh, into the Ha, you know, the, the, okay, now I can start really personalizing it. Uh, and what I mean by that is within the framework. Okay. So for example, uh, uh, Sprint planning. Okay. Um, or actually, uh, one of the classics is daily Scrum, right? You know, it’s, it’s the, what did you do yesterday? What are you doing today, what, you know, that sort of thing. Uh, when everybody starts, it’s always the same thing.

Dan Neumann: [15:35]  Death by the three questions sometimes. Yes. Yeah. It’s a, it’s a place to start for sure. Yup.

Che Ho: [15:40] Yes, yes, absolutely. And that’s, that’s where I recommend to everybody starts, right? Because it focuses them on, uh, you know, on the goal of it all. So, um, when you start getting more Mastery of it, you know, the Ha. Um, to internalize it, then you throw the script away and you could still hit the things that you need to hit. Uh, one team came up with, uh, this phrase that they use is the Sprint healthy? I loved it. You know, so they get together, uh, you know, at 10 o’clock, uh, in, uh, and they have a monitor, a huge, you know, uh, TV, uh, monitor. And then they put the digital board that they have on and the first thing they ask is like, okay, um, it looks like, uh, we have a good chunk that’s still in progress. Um, is the Sprint healthy, you know, and if everybody goes, Oh yeah, no problem, you know, should get done with this chunk, you know, in the next couple days. And then they go, okay, cool. Anything else? No, we’re done.

Dan Neumann: [16:51]  Interesting. Cause one of the, one of the purposes of the daily Scrum is that a, is a daily planning cadence of sorts. And so I’m kind of wondering are they doing the coordination, the planning, et cetera, just by, by nature of, of how they do the rest of the work then like I yes, the health of the Sprint is important and I was just kinda wondering how the deep planning activities as they go through the days of the Sprint, uh, is happening in an example like that.

Che Ho: [17:22] Yeah. That that happens kind of cumulatively, right? Is that at the beginning, um, more towards the beginning phases of the Sprint when they, they don’t tend to ask is a Sprint healthy because you know, it’s a start. So that’s when they say, okay, are we good in how do we, do we need to sync up? Are there anything, you know, any roadblocks or bumps that you see in the road? Um, and if the team members go, yeah, you know what, that one, I don’t quite get, you know, this particular thing, I’m going to need some help on that, you know, so a lot of the sync synchronization and the further planning happens more towards the beginning of the Sprint and then as it goes on, as they start picking up momentum, uh, in the Sprint, uh, then it really becomes that question of, okay, are we good? We good? Any problems, anything, you know, anything we need to sync up on? No. Done. So sometimes their daily Scrums take five minutes.

Dan Neumann: [18:26]  Yeah, that’s cool. That and you’re pointing at, right. In the beginning of the Sprint, you know, Sprint planning is not designed to drive out all the uncertainty for the next five days, 10 days, 15, 30, whatever your Sprint duration is. It’s can we, can we plan enough to have a reasonable forecast that we’re going to achieve the Sprint goal. And then like you said, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the early parts and so maybe more detailed daily planning as part of that daily Scrum. That’s cool. And then it’s, um, it’s not on autopilot to the end, but they are still keeping an eye out for, Hey, are we, is it healthy? Are we going to land the Sprint with the Sprint goal?

Che Ho: [19:04] Yeah, it’s essentially a handshake, you know, that they have, uh, every day. And you know, I mean to, to again, go back to the Shuhari, um, analogy that we’re using. Um, right now I, I, I find them in the hot phase, you know, cause it’s still a little rough, you know, they’re still having to, uh, you know, go, Oh wait, wait, wait. Did we, are we sure that we touched on everything or sometimes they miss something and uh, you know, they go have to go back to the, okay, what did you do today? You know, what did you need? You know? Um, so they’re still not quite leaving the form, you know, but, uh, and I, and I anticipate that highly functional teams, right? Um, the daily Scrum really is completely organic, right. That, um, it can happen. Uh, the, the whole synchronization planning, uh, you know, and any discussions that are needed, uh, happen almost every hour, multiple times during the day because it just becomes something that they talk about. [inaudible] you know, going back to what I was saying about what the Ri, uh, definition is in, uh, as a martial artist, it becomes part of your being part of your fiber is just the way you do things. It’s not something you need to think about.

Dan Neumann: [20:33]  Yeah. And for the part of your fiber and the way you do things, I think I see that sometimes with like the agile principles, Hey, you know, we were going to self organize around this. We’re not going to expect somebody to come and give us direction. So that stuff just becomes part of their being, reaching out to the customer versus, um, sending an email to the Product Owner, asking them to go to the customer, you know, so, so just naturally taking action then removing impediments and delivering small chunks of working code throughout the Sprint. And I see that as a really nice place where teams get, which I think is aligned with more Ri, Hey, it’s just this is how we do it. And we are continually, uh, inspecting and adapting as we go along.

Che Ho: [21:20] Continually experimenting too. Like you were saying, right? You know, in some environments, Dev teams reaching out to, uh, the customer might be like, no, Oh my God, you can’t do that. You know? And it’s like, no, no, no, calm down. Give it a try, see how it works, you know?

Dan Neumann: [21:39]  Yes. And you know, and if it doesn’t work, that’s also learning. And that’s part of the fun with the experimentation. You have a hypothesis, and proving or disproving your hypothesis is still learning. And I really like that.

Che Ho: [21:52] And I think that when you see a lot of that going on, um, this, that is one of the things that really signify more of a Ri type of maturity, you know, that you’re so comfortable at what’s going on, you know, it just becomes the way that you are, that you’re free to innovate, create and uh, experiment.

Dan Neumann: [22:13]  That’s very cool. What do you do or what have you seen either in your transformation with the County of Santa Clara or in the martial arts part? When it gets into topics of motivation? And I was mentioning we had a, an inquiry, which is essentially, I’ll paraphrase it because I don’t have that the actual inquiry in front of me, but it was essentially, Hey, we’re, we’re doing pretty good. And uh, as the Scrum Master who contacted us, they would like the team to continue to pursue being better, more excellent, et cetera. And the question from team members come like, well, why we’re doing okay, we’re doing the Scrum thing, we’re delivering an increment every Sprint, you know, it’s, we’re doing pretty good. Why, why the need for continuous improvement? And I was kinda curious what you’ve seen in your kind of couple overlapping realms there around that topic.

Che Ho: [23:05] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That is really, honestly the crux of the matter, right? You know, is is why we do things. Uh, and in martial arts, I found that the true motivation, um, begins to come to light during the Ha phase. The. Ha, uh, maturity level. Okay. Because at the beginning, when you’re in Shu um, you’re always excited. It’s like, you know, like, yeah, I want to Master, I want to do everything. I want to learn everything, you know, and then as the years go on, right. And as your, your, your experience level grows, that’s when you start going, you know what, I’m okay. You know, I don’t know whether or not I want to become like the Master of this art or anything like that. So, uh, in the sense of Scrum teams, it kind of sorta is the same. Um, you can, you can get to a point in which you’re, you’re great. You’re feeling okay with the cadence, right. You know, the cadence of things that are going, there’s always stuff that you can change, right? And if you approach it with that sort of sense, then it’s not this, Hey, you got to improve feeling. You know, it becomes more natural, right. In the sense of, yeah, you know, what, our cadence is good. Um, but the communication patterns between our group and finance, for example, that slowed us down in the last project, you know, um, how can we improve on that? Right. And that in itself naturally moves you more towards greater maturity, further experimentation, uh, and continuous improvement.

Dan Neumann: [25:06]  That’s interesting. As you kind of went to the, the martial arts analogy though, what popped into my head was the difference between somebody’s parents making them go, whether it’s martial arts or piano playing or I played trumpet. Yeah. Verse. And so yeah, there’s probably not much and a lot of leaders are saying, uh, you know, I, I jokingly paraphrase the first place I went to where I got introduced to Scrum, the big boss said, we’re doing Scrum two week Sprints. Effectively, that’s your training. Go. Yeah. I, there was, this was not a grassroots agile adoption. This was the big boss saying, you know, you’re going to karate class today. Um, thou shalt, and so really kind of forgoing any attempt at building intrinsic motivation. Yeah.

Che Ho: [25:53] And you know, I mean that in itself is kind of, it, it moves against what the Agile Manifesto really talks about. Right. It’s more about, you know, the, the interaction between people than it is process.

Dan Neumann: [26:08]  Yeah. It kind of left. Yeah. It left out the, the uh, self organizing teams sort of, I mean, we’re forced to organize into teams and do the Scrum Framework. Um, I think there was a lot of benefit to the organization for it. It didn’t click with some people. Some people, you know, voluntarily left the organization and that’s okay. Some of them went to agile organizations later on, but at that point, for whatever reason, it just was not for them. Um, which is not a terribly inspiring story of, you know, tapping intrinsic necessarily.

Che Ho: [26:45] Yeah, it goes, it really is. There’s a phrase that, um, shoot, who said it? He wrote a book called, um, Say What you Mean, uh, and it is, uh, it’s a book on his interpretations and lessons at, uh, nonviolent communication. Uh, I’m sure you’re familiar with that.

Dan Neumann: [27:13]  I am. I’ve been exposed to it. I am not an expert. Yes. I want to disclaim any level of expertise. I don’t think I’m even Shu right. I’m just, I’m like, I’m like outside the dojo looking in the window. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve sort of heard of it.

Che Ho: [27:32] Yeah. So I think it was, uh, he that, uh, coined in, in many people have said, so is that all experiences and all communication is co-created. So in that sense, right, if the child in the parent child, you know, analogy, metaphor that we’re using, right. If the child is not motivated and the parent is, nothing happens. If the child is motivated and the parent isn’t, nothing happens. You know. So your, your, your story about, uh, you know, the person who left the organization and then later on joined, uh, another agile organization and it seemed to work there. It really is that timing, right? Is that, you know, in that sense, the parents, the CEO or whoever was saying, thou shalt do agile, the S the students, the, you know, the worker wasn’t ready. You know, it really is either some way communicating a way to bring people to the same, uh, understanding, you know, or it’s time, you know, either one.

Dan Neumann: [28:45]  Yeah. And I think something I know I have struggled with would be the patience with the change, you know, the shift of mindset, the shift of practices, um, you know, breaking down some of the silos that exist in organizations. I know for me, I, that’s, I don’t tend to be the most patient creature that’s ever walked the face of the earth. And sometimes that’s a mismatch as well between levels of motivation to change.

Che Ho: [29:12] I totally relate. I was just thinking, you know, because I had mentioned it took a good two years, spin up time for the County of Santa Clara to, you know, really start moving, uh, on an agile transformation. Uh, you know, so I get you, I was kind of like, you know, go on.

Dan Neumann: [29:34]  And I think part of that then is to celebrate the small wins too. You know, it’s not about big dramatic changes, you know, everything’s unit tested. Every, you know, we have automated builds. It’s like there’s a lot of small wins probably to celebrate and build some momentum towards bigger change too.

Che Ho: [29:51] Yeah. And you know, it actually makes people feel good about all of it. Right. You know, instead of bludgeoning people with the agile stick, you know. Right.

Dan Neumann: [30:04]  I need to get an agile stick. I’;d like to take it with me. Places

Che Ho: [30:08] Works well.

Dan Neumann: [30:08]  Yeah. Big Nerf bat. Uh, at one place I was at had a cricket bat that they, uh, they had for applying beatings of sorts. Yeah. So, so interesting. Any, any closing thoughts before I interrogate you about what’s got you inspired these days? What you’re either reading or otherwise consuming that’s got you inspired? Any closing thoughts on Shuhari?

Che Ho: [30:33] Yeah, I guess, um, really the, the, the takeaway is not, it’s not stages, right. They don’t exist, you know, outside of each other. Uh, and it’s not even necessarily one is better than the other. Right? It’s simply is a way to look at a maturity level and one cannot exist without the other. Um, so instead of trying to achieve something, uh, you know, again, back to my martial arts background, right. You know, instead of trying to achieve something, it becomes an internalization. It becomes part of my fiber and part of my being. And that is what the re level, uh, you know, really signifies to me.

Dan Neumann: [31:22]  That’s awesome. I think that was a more clear explanation than I’ve had ever before. So I want to appreciate you for, uh, joining and having the conversation at the agile conference and continuing that here, uh, some months later.

Che Ho: [31:38] Love it. Thanks.

Dan Neumann: [31:40]  So what, uh, what’s got you, uh, inspired these days? Maybe? What’s, what’s your growth edge?

Che Ho: [31:47] Oh yeah, the biggest thing, it’s, so, it actually isn’t a very exciting time, I think for, you know, for agile. Um, you know, because there’s so much out there now and there’s so much more to learn now. One of the things that I’ve been studying a lot of is a cutting edge field in psychology, uh, called interpersonal neurobiology.

Dan Neumann: [32:15]  Okay. I know what interpersonal is, and I got neuro has to do with the brain and I got the biology part. But what does it mean when you put all those things together?

Che Ho: [32:23] Yeah. one of the authors that I’ve been reading, uh, uh, is, uh, Rick Hanson. He wrote a book called Resilient. Uh, and he has a wonderful analogy. Um, he breaks it, he breaks it down to, uh, you know, essentially the brainstem, the midbrain, you know, and you know, the neocortex, the higher brain functions. And if the lizard brain is happy, he says, pet the lizard, make it happy, you know, feed, feed the mammal, the midbrain, and that will enable you to, uh, keep using your monkey brain. So train the monkey. Uh, so yeah. You know, I, I love the way that he puts it because they’re, the reason why I got it gets me so excited about, um, how we approach coaching, you know, uh, is exactly that in we learn better, right. When we’re laughing and when we’re having fun.

Dan Neumann: [33:35]  Yeah. And feeling safe. Yeah. You know, when the lizard brain’s not freaking out that it’s a lot easier to learn.

Che Ho: [33:41] Right? Yeah, exactly. And that’s why, you know, I mean, a lot of that’s why there was so much, uh, and there is still so much, um, excitement around nonviolent communication, the techniques by, uh, you know, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, um, because it is exactly trying to set that container. So, so the way that I’m using it is in my every day, um, interactions, um, you know, uh, in Scrum events, right? Backlog refinements, how do we set the container so that the expectation is to be creative and innovative. And if I’m successful in, um, creating these containers for each Scrum event and every interaction that I have, it really brings out the best in everybody because they feel safe, as you said. Um, you know, and they have the social connection and they can, they can have fun and burn.

Dan Neumann: [34:46]  That’s super cool.

Che Ho: [34:47] Yeah. Interpersonal neurobiology. Yeah.

Dan Neumann: [34:49]  Interpersonal. Okay. Well we’ll put a link to that book in the show notes.

Che Ho: [34:54] Yeah. And also, um, the, the freight, the study of interpersonal neurobiology is Dr. Dan Siegel um, yeah, those two things have gotten me really excited as you can tell.

Dan Neumann: [35:08]  That’s super cool. No, and I think the, uh, the folks there at the County Santa Clara, they’re lucky to have you working with their transformation cause I think these types of perspectives are what one would look for in a coach, somebody who’s, who’s kind of nurturing that and, and working through that system. So that’s super cool. Well, thank you for taking time out of your day to, uh, to share with folks.

Che Ho: [35:30] My pleasure.

Outro: [35:33] This has been the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast brought to you by AgileThought. The views, opinions, and information expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and the guests and do not necessarily represent those of AgileThought. Get the show notes and other helpful tips for this episode and other episodes at agilethought.com/podcast.

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