The “what”, “how”, “why” and “who” aspects of knowledge work need to be addressed. Although Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” has captured the imagination of many agilists, virtually all Agile frameworks start with “what”, some not even mentioning the “why.”
Starting with why provides both an understanding of goals, provides respect for the team and creates the possibility of discovering a better way to work than any prescribed approach.
Frameworks typically start with how because that’s what frameworks are about – how to accomplish something. It’s important therefore to be clear about the why and what when using them, especially because they often won’t tell you that.
Let’s take a simple example – iterations (a how) in Scrum. There are other ways to achieve what they achieve. The “what” iteration is a “how” to is:
- Limit work in process
- Work on small items
- Get feedback no longer than the timebox
- Provide a cadence for different roles to work together & for learning
These are all good things. But there are many other ways to achieve them. Understanding the why of these what’s is useful. Mostly to remove delays in workflow &feedback, both of which cause extra work.
Understanding the what & why provides you the ability to discover better "how"s for your situation.