Scrum Inc, Japan just Established – background and meaning of the moment

I’m proud to announce that Scrum Inc, KDDI and ESM(my company) partnered to form a new joint venture Scrum Inc, Japan, in Tokyo on March 8th!

Here’s the news release from KDDI.
KDDI, Scrum, ESM Partner to Form New Venture Optimizing Agile Project Development

I’d like to share my version of the story…

Scrum Inc, Japan public press release on 8th Mar(from left, Fujii@KDDI, Avi Schneier@scrumin, Aramoto CEO of ScrumIncJapan, Kenji Hiranabe@ESM)

Three years ago, Fujii-san at KDDI (old friend of mine since he was in Sun Microsystems) told me that they would change their internal software development from waterfall to Agile.

I was helping him in the internal transformation and at the same time, talked with Jeff Sutherland, about the idea of  establishing a new Japanese entity dedicated to educating and coaching Scrum theory and practice in Japan. I have known Jeff in person since  Agile2007, where I was introduced to him by Mary Poppendieck.

Back in 2009, I started AgileJapan in 2009 and began forming an Agile community in Japan around the time, and since then we have invited as keynoters Mary/Tom Poppendieck, Alan Shalloway, Linda Rising, Jonathan Rasmusson, James Grenning, Janet Gregory, Joe Justice(from Scruminc!)Joshua Kerievskey, and Woody Zuill. I met Joe Justice in 2016 as a keynoter at Agile Japan 2016.

Joe and Kenji, at AgileJapan 2016
Jeff, Kenji, and Nonaka at Innovation Sprint 2011

In 2011, Kawaguchi-san(at Rakuten at the time), Maeda-san(at Peak-1) and I invited Jeff Sutherland to Japan to keynote at “Innovation Sprint 2011” and to meet with Prof. Ikujiro Nonaka(known as grandfather of Scrum), who co-authored “The new new product development game“(1986 HBR) and coined the word Scrum which later referred to by Jeff as a source theory of the current Scrum in Agile movement.

I also visited Jeff at Scruminc Boston and interviewed him on “How Scrum was made” (invited blog at scruminc) and wrote a book(“Agile and Scrum”) with Prof. Nonaka, including the Jeff’s interview,  half dozen Japanese cases, and connection between the original Scrum and Scrum in Agile context.

Two years ago, ESM and KDDI started to provide Scruminc’s education courses to Japanese practitioners which was quite a success. Our team consists of Aramoto-san, Wada-san(from KDDI), Kinoshita-san, Amano-san, Ienaga-san, Saito-san(from ESM) and Avi-san, Chloe-san(from Scruminc). And today it became a shape as a joint venture company.

Kenji, JJ Sutherland, Chloe, Avi and Nonaka

Last year, JJ Sutherland, Avi Shneier, Chloe O’Neil  visited Prof. Nonaka’s office and talked in depth about the meaning of Scrum and innovation over good lunch. They became core board members and coaches of the new company.

My goal here is to change Japan’s industry to grow in the world wide market by installing Scrum, where business and engineers co-create products and services with passionate people in more a collaborative way.

Today,  Scrum community in Japan is growing rapidly. Scrum Gathering Tokyo,  Scrum Fest Osaka2019 were held and succeeded with full of energy. This summer AgileJapan 2019 is going to be held on 18th July.

Engineers in the SI(System Integrator) business are becoming also aware of this climate change. I’m originally from the SI camp where people always afraid of deadlines, over-budget, and scope creeps. Today, business is changing rapidly. Business people in larger enterprises also expect to digital-transfer their own company to survive in the economy.

In this context, I see great opportunities for both business and engineers to directly collaborate and co-create future market and society together.

But, Japanese industry needs different innovation style from Silicon Valley(where entrepreneurs and capitalists form an ecosystem to “big-bang” innovation). We need more sustainable innovations together with the society here. I asked Prof. Nonaka to write an endorsement to our new journey.

The true Scrum creates business value together with embracing happiness of the people involved. This theory and practice shall become the key enabler for Japanese companies to co-create sustainable innovations in the future global market and society.

Hitotsubashi University Professor Emeritus
Ikujiro Nonaka

Kenji and Prof. Nonaka

He doesn’t really agree to the idea of work style change included in the current Japan Cabinet policy. He says “we need meanings, greater common good, and personal belief in what we are doing.  It is not about a small thing like profit of a company or a project, but it should be about social value connected with a person’s belief about how you will change the world. We need to talk openly and seriously about it. That ‘ba’ and culture is what management and leadership should nourish. ”

I will strive for this change in Japan with the new Scrum Inc, Japan CEO Aramoto-san.

KDDI 藤井さん

Also I really appreciate my friend Fujii-san who drove this joint business in the KDDI side for persistently keeping the engineers’ happiness and motivation in business to the top of the objectives.

ESM also have skillful and passionate programmers in Fukui and Tokyo. We have just opened Agile Studio Fukui  to collaborate with Scrum Inc, Japan in the software development side. We will make the era of local engineers from Fukui, too!


Agile Studio Fukui

OK, let’s start this journey together! Full of passion for the opportunities.


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