The Agile Haijin Workshop

On Friday, I ran a workshop to teach some of my colleagues how to write haiku (a haijin is a haiku poet).

Many pleasant surprises: the number of people (I suspect they were press-ganged), the willingness of all participants to try, the way in which they critiqued their own poetry and sought feedback and suggestion, but most of all the fact that every single person added to the renga, a series in which each verse is inspired by the previous one, and everyone gets a turn – the ping-pong programming of poetry.

I did expect that everyone would end up producing something unique and beautiful, but it’s always nice to be proved right.

Fantastically, three of the participants said that they would indeed go away and practice reading and writing haiku in order to improve their vocabulary, fluency, non-procedural thinking, communication, concision, imagery… well, my conclusion for the session is that while there’s no single skill which the art of haiku can teach, there’s a wide range which can be improved. Everyone had fun. Most found it useful. I count that a success. Now I can relax again, until the next time.

If anyone out there feels like reading a little poetry today, I recommend TinyWords and the Scifaiku group at Yahoo.

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3 Responses to The Agile Haijin Workshop

  1. anonymous says:

    Neat idea! Did the group discuss the relationship between haiku writing and agile development? If so, what did you conclude?
    Kevin []

  2. sirenian says:

    Yes, in a roundabout way, in that I mentioned some of the similarities I’d spotted and they agreed with me.

    Here are some of the things which have parallels, which I may or may not have mentioned, because I didn’t specifically think about these last time:
    A haiku should be the simplest thing which can convey the associated imagery. Agile Software should be the simplest thing which can do the job.
    Discussions as to what constitutes the simplest thing are still ongoing.
    A haiku should describe what something is, not how you should feel about it. Tests should describe what software should do, not how to do it.
    A haiku should be concise.
    See above post on ping-pong programming and rengas.
    Writing a haiku and making the green bar feel much the same.

    Thanks for asking that question; they’re useful ideas for me to bear in mind next time I run this. I think the reason why there are so many of them is because of the way the mind maps a design into a series of packages and objects, just as the mind maps a scene into the subset of sensory fragments which make up a haiku. Which is why I also used mind-mapping in the workshop.

    So there still are more skills which haiku can help to improve, but I don’t think any of them are as useful as the practices of gaining calm insight and improving linguistic ability. There’s a conclusion for you.

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