The intersection of technology and leadership

Powers of Why

Although I can’t say I’ve been part of many other methodology movements as closely, one of the greatest things I appreciate about the agile community is to explain why things work the way they do.

Back at university, when I remember RUP being taught, none of the books or the leaders of the community explained why they suggested you do things, other than, “This is how you do it.”

I’ll admit that as more and more people call themselves “Agile”, a key characteristic for the community leaders and many of its respected participants is their deep understanding for why we do things. Great examples of this is the community’s willingness to continually question practices adding value and exploring new practices to add more value. Evolutions of TDD to BDD, the introduction of explicit limits for Work in Progress, and levels of automated testing to bring feedback early as possible.

Another great example of this cultural phenomenon is the community’s willingness to explain how situations arise. The most recent example was Rachel Davies explanation of the Gordon Pask award, but stretches as far back as to the origins of the Agile Manifesto written by signatories such as Martin Fowler, Dave Thomas and Uncle Bob Martin.

It’s easy to criticise situations when they don’t work or when you dislike something, yet I think we need to appreciate those willing to not only try new things, but help others understand why they tried those new things. Understanding the intent behind actions lets others attempt new ways of achieving the same goal given the same, or even different circumstances.


  1. Greg Wilson

    That’s why I always liked Rosenberg’s book ( it did a great job of explaining *why* to do certain kinds of modeling, in a particular order.

  2. André Faria Gomes

    Great post. This was also the main message that I got in the Agile Brazil 2010 Conference and its also very well explained in the Dude’s Law from David Hussman.

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