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I’ve been a big fan of Katas for a few years. Recently, I brought them to my team as a way to spend ~1 hour a every other week doing something fun and educational.

I think this can be a fairly lightweight process - the goal is just to make sure that you’re solving problems collaboratively and learning new skills / refining old ones along the way.

What Is A Kata?

From Wikipedia:

Kata is a Japanese word (型 or 形) meaning “form”. It refers to a detailed choreographed pattern of martial arts movements made to be practised alone. It can also be reviewed within groups and in unison when training. It is practised in Japanese martial arts as a way to memorize and perfect the movements being executed.

How to practice Katas as a team

One approach is to have the team choose a leader who guides the team through a kata. Rotating this role is helpful to make sure that the burden doesn’t fall exclusively on a single set of shoulders.

Responsibilities of the leader include:

  • Identify a new Kata to solve
  • Record the meeting and capture the links in a central place (e.g., wiki page) for reference afterwards. Links can include the recording, Github link, etc.
  • Introduce the problem to the team at the beginning of the session
  • Lead the team through a pair/mob session of the problem or each member can work on the problem independently and then reconvene at the end for reflection.

Sessions should last ~1 hour. The first 3/4 are dedicated to working through the problem and trying to solve it. The final 15 minutes will be reserved for retrospection and discussion.

Kata Log

The Kata Log is a place to store the resources for future reference. I keep a table like the following in a wiki page and add to it with each session.

Date Session Leader Problem Summary Links (Problem Statement, Github, Recording, etc.)

Inspiration / Resources for Katas

There are lots of places to find Katas. Here’s a collection of sites that offer practice problems.

Hi there and thanks for reading! My name's Stephen. I live in Chicago with my wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Want more? See about and get in touch!