The pace of learning in a dojo varies. Once a team embraces collaborative working, the learning gates open and the amount of learning for each individual is hard to capture. This is a great problem to have.
We start to notice these tiny bits of learning and how they make things easier as we continue collaborating. It may seem trivial, but having someone new to a tool the team has decided to use, such as a particular IDE, start to navigate that tool with relative ease, helps the team flow.
It is important to figure out how we will focus on capturing this learning for our benefit as a team. Dedicating time for improving ourselves and understanding the learning we have experienced helps us to improve our capabilities both individually and as a team.
Any team that has experienced a dojo, at least a dojo with the intent of learning more effective ways of working, will tell you that continuous learning after the dojo is a key to their success.
These teams find a way to incorporate learning as something they do. In spite of the pressures to “deliver more faster”.
The most recent team I worked with in a dojo decided to have an exploratory learning area in their collaborative digital space. This area would house different things team members wanted to read, or watch, or try together with the team. They would decide on something from the list and make that the focus of learning for an extended period of time that felt appropriate.
The whole team in the dojo would commit to doing this together. But life happens, and either in the dojo or after the dojo, not everyone will be able to watch, read, or listen to whatever was decided to learn about. It is ok when this happens. The conversation that occurs as a team will spark questions from those that couldn’t, and this has helped others share what they learned in an attempt to pass along that knowledge.
Remember that collaborative work includes the conversations that occur. These conversations build on our tacit knowledge.
Yes there is a discipline to this. But if it is important to us, we will make sure that it happens.
Challenges To Learning
It is important to acknowledge that this focus on continuous learning is not always met with a loving embrace. Every organization has a system, and changes to that system are viewed as a threat that the system will defend against in some way.
There will be people in positions of power that say things like “this team exists to provide X value to Y customer, there is no value to them spending time reading a book and sharing their thoughts about it that are beneficial…”
That is not an entirely inaccurate statement. It is however extremely foolish and without any real understanding of how teams work. If our purpose is to provide some value to some customer through a piece of software, then it would benefit us to understand many things. What is important to that customer? What does that customer need to accomplish? What is something that customer struggles with? And the best way to help that customer with software is to make sure the software is effective and of good quality. And to do that, we need to learn what good software looks like and how good software functions. How to create good quality software. And how to work collaboratively as a team. These aren’t things you learn by taking a coding course or getting a certification in product ownership or process improvement. People learn by doing. And repetitious actions become learned habits. Again, we need to do things to learn them, and in doing these things we build our tacit knowledge.
We need to invest in learning.
We need to learn how to learn.
Our investment in learning directly impacts our ability to make things gooder.