Why?

People often ask me how. Rarely people ask me why. And from my point of view this is the fundamental question. The ‘how’ consists of a bunch of techniques. The ‘why’ helps you focus all the time in what you do. And so often I have been in situations that really no one knows the ‘why’, so they just do something and wonder later on what went wrong. Arie van Bennekum lowres

Written by Arie van Bennekum, chair of Agile Consortium International

Often I see the model where human motivation is explained by mastery-autonomy-goals. And I think it helps to explain motivation and drive. And when doing things that way it results in quality and fun. In general people, including myself, love situations in which their expertise is acknowledged, where they can act with responsibility and they know where (they want) to go.

I remember my last traditional (waterfall) project in 1994. I was doing what I was told – making a technical design – but had no idea what objectives would be served with the solution and there was absolutely not ‘a team’. It was just working in an individual bubble with nothing shared at all.

When the project was put on hold I decided to visit the ‘commercial management’ of the consultancy firm I was working for at the time. Five out of six sales persons were at the office that day and in individual conversations I had time to explain that I did not want to do ‘that’ any more, not knowing what I wanted instead… I still thank Willem Thielsch for listening closely and making the right judgement about who I was (and still am).

Agile is in my opinion a mindset: it is not what you do, it is what or who you are.

Doing my first Rapid Application Development project I noticed the difference. I took the role as both project manager and facilitator. Of course lots of room for improvement but both the knowledge of where to go and the opportunity to work based on synergy (with end-users) inspired me in such a way I never worked otherwise again. It took me even a step further.

Sometime later I switched to DSDM, what I represented when we wrote the Agile Manifesto, and stepped into this (as it appeared to me at the time) funny community where competitors, clients and providers worked together to improve. Now I know this is the strength of what we do. Shortly after I also joined the International Association for Facilitators because I still love facilitation and it is key in the interaction concept we call Agile.

In both communities I am still active. As assessor for the IAF and the Agile Consortium and as chair of the Agile Consortium International. In this role I visit a lot of communities, mainly across Europe, and the set of mastery-autonomy-goals can be seen in every true Agile community driving people to share-innovate-create quality ( the mission of the Agile Consortium). Let’s keep it this way!

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