How the Bushido Code (Samurai Code) followed by martial artists enhances agile principles

by | Dec 9, 2020

As someone who has been in martial arts for over thirty years, there is a code most live by The Bushido Code. A code within the Samurai culture that guides how to conduct themselves. The eight principles can be linked to the twelve principles in the Agile Software Delivery Manifesto and more than one way.

Let’s go through and see how each principle is linked.

1.      Justice: Justice is a core value of the Samurai. Incorporating the Bushido principle of justice into your life requires reflecting on what is fair and upholding the value of upstanding moral character. 

a.      Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

i.       A team focuses on listening to the clients’ needs, not forcing what they think their needs are.

b.      Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

i.       Team members need to keep each other accountable to their goals and their expectations to reach them.

c.       Build projects around motivated individuals. Please give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

i.       Servant leaders need to ensure teams have what they need and the freedom to achieve organizational goals as a self-managed team.

ii.      Teams are more motivated when they are given guidance over orders.

d.      The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.

i.       No hiding bad news or information.

ii.      Transparency is key in any agile framework, and it is bidirectional.

iii.     Teams should provide the correct information and any mitigations that can be done if there are issues

iv. Senior leaders should take the information and view it from a process issue and appreciate the teams are working through them.

2.      Courage: Courage, like justice, entails deciphering what is right and wrong. Courage requires the strength not only to perceive but also to act. 

a.      Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

i.       The fear of making changes can freeze a team even in an agile environment

ii.      Must accept change and work through the solution.

iii.       If it is not done right or is a mistake to do, we learn from it.

b.      Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

i.       Not be afraid to bring up new ideas

ii.      Don’t let complacency create fear of change

c.       At regular intervals, the team reflects on becoming more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

i.       Courage to bring up what needs to be fixed.

ii.      What went wrong.

iii.       What to do such things are better

3.      Compassion: Compassion is the ability to manifest love and sympathy through patience. It also requires attempting to see the world from the perspective of another. This is an essential trait for those in a leadership role.

a.      Working software is the primary measure of progress.

i.       Always providing value to client needs.

ii.      Understanding the client needs

b.      Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

i.       Understand how everyone works and appreciate how it works within the team.

ii.      Help each other become better at what they do

4.      Respect: Respect means that you acknowledge your regard for the experiences and feelings of others. To collaborate with another person, politeness must be employed.

a.      Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

i.       Keeping it simple can sometimes lead to disagreements on what is considered simple. Respect is needed to keep the disagreements to useful discussions and not something that creates negative impacts.

b.      The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

i.       Leadership respects and trusts the teams will do what is right to achieve organizational goals and vision

ii.      Team members respect and trust one another.

5.      Integrity: To practice many of the other principles listed, one has to maintain integrity. This means living honestly and sincerely.  

a.      Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a shorter timescale preference.

i. The team’s integrity to deliver value in short increments is built on all of the Bushido Code.

6.      Honour: Samurai were warriors who upheld a sense of self-worth and lived by the highest code of conduct. To abide by the principle of honour, you must acknowledge your moral responsibilities.

a.      Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

i.       Not only honouring self-improvement it is also about honouring the team improvement

b.      Build projects around motivated individuals. Please give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

i.       Servant leadership honouring the team with what they need to succeed.

c.       Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

i.       The teams honouring the client’s needs and the fact that they can change.

7.      Loyalty: First, stay true to yourself. When fealty is given to another, this must not be abandoned even under difficult circumstances.

a.      Working software is the primary measure of progress.

 i.       Teams are loyal to the client in delivering value.

b.      Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

i.       Team members are loyal to each other in working on team value.

c.       Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a shorter timescale preference.

i.       Organizations loyal to the agile mindset in having the right behaviours to push forward.

ii.      Not fall back to non-agile traditional ways when things are not going well.

d.      Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

i.       Stay loyal to innovation and not become complacent

e.       At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.

i.       Team members are loyal to each other in working on continuous improvement.

f.        The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from a self-organizing team.

i.       Loyal to providing the client, not only their needs, yet a product or service that does it efficiently.

8.      Self-control: Self-control in the Bushido code means adhering to this code under all circumstances, when with others and when alone.

a.      The key thing here is having enough control not to fall back to the “old way” of doing things. They need to work through issues and learn from them to improve continuously.

i.       Working software is the primary measure of progress.

ii.      Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

iii.       Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

iv.       Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

v.      Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a shorter timescale preference.

vi.       Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

vii.      Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.

Martial arts is a great way to improve fitness levels and provide knowledge of self-defence and improved focus. It also guides life. From teams to organizations, it can also help as an enhancement tool at being agile.

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