Working in Asia: does Chinese philosophy support or conflict with Agile principles?

Chinese philosophy has played a influential part in shaping thought and culture throughout Asia. As we support Asian organisations with their Agile journey, we have encountered many modes of thought that overlaps with similar concepts from Chinese philosophy.

Whilst not exactly the same as those long ago, these thought patterns have carried through into the modern world. Concepts such as ritual, 'wu-wei', loyalty and law manifest at the individual, team and organisational level – and we have experienced many occasions in which these support Agile adoption, but also many where they act as a barrier.

In this session we will cover the basics of the core Ancient Chinese philosophical schools, figures and key concepts, draw parallels to observations and challenges that we all see in organisations, and provide some guidance on how to lead and support the adoption of Agile principles in such environments and situations.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

Intro (5 mins)
Discuss the current state of Agile (worldwide, HK and Singapore) and also the current state of "Chinese" thought as influenced by the past

History
Intro (5 mins) The key schools of Chinese thought, key concepts
In each section below, we will discuss the key messages, ethics and context surrounding the existence of the philosophical schools, but also discuss the parallels which we see in organisations today + offer some guidance on how to act in those situations

Pre-warring states (10 mins)
Confucianism - focus on ritual, loyalty
Taoism - focus on 'wu-wei'

Warring states (10 mins)
Legalism - focus on law, statecraft and power
Mohism - focus on mutual benefit

Wrap-up (10 mins)
Invite feedback from the audience - if possible create a post-it wall:
What resonated?
What didn’t resonate so strongly?
What will you suggest to do differently after listening to this talk (whether for yourself or others?)
Post them all up on whiteboard at the end, summarise and discuss key questions

Otherwise just have the usual discussion

Conclusion (5 mins)

Learning Outcome

High level introduction to schools of Ancient Chinese philosophical thought – key figures, characteristics and reasons (not enough time for the Neo/Modern Chinese philosophical discussion - that will have to go into another session)

Understand which concepts, and which schools of thought supported or contrasted with Agile principles - and why

Learn how to enhance support or overcome resistance of Agile by lessons derived from Chinese philosophy - individual level, team level, organisational level

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Coaches, Practice Leads, Consultants, Leaders, or anyone taking up a more organisational wide focus

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

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