November 18, 2010 CollabNet VersionOne

Japan User Group –

This week I flew to Tokyo on a one week intensive road trip where, among other things, I was asked to take part in two day long seminars about Scrum / Agile / Lean – one in Japan and one in Seoul.  The first day long seminar was put on with help from our partners XL Soft and our amazing staff in Tokyo.

After the first meeting I was asked to attend the local Suku Suku Scrum user group led by Kawaguchi-san.  It was a small gathering of about 12 of us.  Of the 12 members about 5 are CSMs and they have been trained by Bas Vodde who has made a name for himself in the region and has also published some great books, including this one on lean and agile values.  Attached below are a few pictures we took after the meeting.

In January 2011, one of the first Scrum specific seminars is taking place in Tokyo.  If you are in the area and are interested in learning about or networking with Scrum gurus, sign up for this one.  With Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland headlining this is an indication that the market is heating up.  According to the Suku Suku user group, there are a mere 100 Certified ScrumMasters in Japan, so there is a lot of growth to still be had.

I am encouraged by what I saw in Tokyo.  The Agile and Lean markets are emerging – and Japan seems behind the rest of world – but the energy in the seminar and the after hours user group tells me that that won’t be the case for very long.

Why is Japan behind on Scrum when Lean comes from the Japanese auto-makers? I asked our host Kawaguchi-san and this is his paraphrased response to me:

The Government of Japan essentially makes it near impossible to lay off employees.  In addition – Japanese employers take a very long term view of business cycles, weathering the storms by focusing on ‘keeping people busy’ instead of gettting product out the door.  This response seems to go against what I know about Japanese business culture – so I will investigate this further in another blog post.

Are you in an emerging market?  Need help starting a user group? Let me know. Next stop, Seoul.

Tokyo, Japan (15 Novemember 2010)

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