John Clapham


Agile Teams (B) 2018
Agile Teams (B)
Thursday 14:00 - 14:45

Session type: Lecture
Session level: Intermediate

Kaizen To Karōshi – Burnout in agile teams and what you can do about it

Session video

This talk It looks at what makes agile, and transforming, teams susceptible to burnout, including key triggers. It aims to help develop a sustainable pace for both change and delivery, for yourself, and the team around you. Employing a blend of theory and practical exercises, it suggests ways to monitor and identify warning signs, and decide what to do when you encounter them.

Agile folk love notions borrowed from Japanese manufacturing, like Kaizen, ‘Continuous improvement’. From the perspective of teams expected to transform, continuous may also mean relentless, ceaseless, unsustainable. Overplayed principles and constant collaboration can make it hard to find space to think and recharge. Coaches gaze deep into our souls, retros wring us for insight and apps ruthlessly interrupt our flow. Despite best intentions, without care, agile methods are just as likely, perhaps more likely, to lead to withdrawal and burnout. Taken to the extreme, the Japanese have another notion; Karōshi, overwork death.


John Clapham is an independent Agile consultant and professional coach. He helps individuals develop, teams build great products, and organisations learn to be more effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. His broad experience ranges from start-up to enterprise scale, formed in the publishing, telecommunications, commerce, defence and public sector arenas.

John has a secret passion for DevOps and Continuous Delivery. His forays into coaching, lean and Agile are fuelled by coffee, lego and Bristol’s frequent inclement weather.


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