#7 Work Death! From Kaizen to Karoshi with John Clapham


Work Death! From Kaizen to Karoshi with John Clapham

In this episode I talk to John Clapham, a professional coach and Agile consultant who works predominantly with I.T and digital services organisations.

John helps leaders and individuals develop, teams to build great products, and organisations learn to be more effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences around the UK.

With the advent of cloud technology and fast paced Agile project delivery methodologies such as Scrum & Kanban, come concepts such as Kaisen.

In Japanese, Kaisen merely gives us the principle of change for the better or an improvement, be that one-off or continuous.

In the world of Agile and lead methodologies it has been adopted as a word for continuous improvement, itself often used merely as a synonym for working at pace.

However, no one can work at pace all the time and it is perhaps perilous to forget that burnout does not lead to improvement but rather a reduction in productivity. Here we might do well to keep another Japanese term, Karoshi, in mind. Translated as ‘overwork death’, Karoshi is a term that refers to occupational sudden mortality.

This is not to suggest that the Japanese are working their population to death, but simply that in learning to work at pace we should ensure we don’t overwork our teams to their death.

In this episode John and I explore this concept with questions such as “how to deliver at pace whilst maintaining a healthy work life balance.”


About John

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 is also often asked to talk at conferences and says “Nothing focuses the mind, or encourages thorough research like presenting ideas in front of hundreds of experts in the field.”

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.

Johns’s Links

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