The Historic Event

An historic event, Innovation Sprint 2011, took place in Japan on January 13. As some readers may know, the word Kanban in agile methodology comes from Japanese production methodology. But Kanban is not only the word in agile methodology that’s from Japan; Scrum is too. (Technically speaking, Scrum is a term from Rugby, but, as far as I know, it was first used in a business context in Japan)

Dr. Jeff Sutherland started Scrum, originally inspired by the idea of in the article The new new product development game written by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in Harvard Business Review back in 1986.

Jeff has been wanting to meet Ikujiro for the last 17 years. Ironically, Ikujiro had not even known that his terminology had been used in the software development industry until the spring of 2010, when Mr. Kenji Hiranabe asked him to have a speaking session at Agile Japan 2010.

An incredibly motivated scrum master, Mr. Yasunobu Kawaguchi wanted to see Jeff’s talk with Ikujiro and asked Jeff to join Agile Japan 2010, but he could not make it due to his schedule. However, Yasunobu did not give up and finally make it happened this January.

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(The above photo is used with the permission by Junichi Niino - Innovation Sprint 2011 report in Publickey.)

The Big Crowd

Ikujiro and Jeff had their own sessions, and then had a joint discussion. (Dr. Jeff Sutherland’s presentation is available on SlideShare.) Almost 400 people attended the talk. If the event host had not stopped accepting the applications, the number would be much larger.

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The Agile Trend in Japan

Although we have the roots of Kanban and Scrum in Japan, the adoption rate of the agile methodology is still low compared to the U.S and European countries, which some of my colleagues were often surprised to learn. One of the reasons is in its multilayered industry structure it is an environment where developers cannot collaborate with their clients well because they work in a different company.

But as you see from the popularity of the event, people have great interest in developing better software and seeking better methodology. I believe that they are going to overcome the difficulty caused by the industry structure and make Japanese companies more competitive in the international market.

As one of the sponsors of the event, Atlassian was really happy to see huge number of people attended and listened with enthusiasm to the session by Ikujiro and Jeff.

We hope to sponsor this kind of fusion between West and East things in the future again.