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Good intentions don’t work. We must develop new habits that realize our good intentions. Option Kata (OK), a specialization of the Improvement Kata, is a simple routine everyone can practice and master to incrementally enhance optionality within their daily work.

Unlike most popular transformation programs, OK doesn’t directly prescribe any macro-processes and practices. Instead, OK injects a small system meta-process into each person’s daily routine which incrementally transforms their local boundaries and activities from fragile, to agile, to antifragile.

Option Kata is “scale-free,” meaning that it works the same way at all scales of the enterprise, from a programmer improving the optionality of a single Javascript function, to a CEO, improving optionality of the company’s suppliers. Local optima that emerge at one level are refactored away as OK practitioners refactor higher-order boundaries and activities.

Over time, even the organizational structure itself is refactored to align with the demands of the environment. As option-based thinking permeates the culture, the organization is on it’s way to becoming antifragile.

High-Level Cycle

It starts with boundaries and activities and proceeds through five steps in the cycle. The first two steps are not explicit, but are part of the natural cause and effect. The last three steps, however, are the explicit disciplines of Option Kata.

  1. Boundary and activities affect optionality.
  2. The level of optionality manifests in a smell.
  3. A smell suggests a refactoring via the Abstract Refactoring Catalog (ARC).
  4. The refactoring informs the kata which is shaped by the specific context.
  5. Application of the kata using the O3 process improves the boundary and activities.

When the cycle is complete, the conditions that gave rise to the boundary smell are modified and, if the smell was accurately sensed, the optionality constraint is lifted.

Repeat the three steps above until there are no more boundary smells, at which point the boundary reaches the option-generating stage.