What Japanese Shinkansen Trains Can Teach Us about Agile

Matthew Weinstock

Have you ever been to Japan and noticed that their railway system is incredibly efficient? As places like Tokyo continue to expand and the cost of living rises, more and more people rely on trains that start hours away from the city to arrive on time. This allows passengers to make their connections to other trains networks and metros that will take them to their final destination. In 2017, over 420 million passengers boarded Shinkansen trains that had an average delay of only 24 seconds! Not to mention that in the 55 years of operation, the Shinkansen has had no injuries due to collision accidents, only 2 derailments, and zero fatalities. Matthew Weinstock walks you through agile principles and practices that are used to keep the trains in Japan running on time, as well as being used to constantly improve their technology, reliability and safety. In many software organizations, these practices tend to be forgotten about in favor of adding additional project work. Learn why rigorous and regular refactoring, continuous integration, short feedback loops, pair programming, safety, and single coding standards provide high value for both the rails and software development. Matt also shares his own real-life experiences in applying these principles and practices to his own agile teams when things were going off the rails.

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