Zan’s Weekly Challenge 8/3/15: Understand the “Why?” of What You Do

It’s time for the next “Zan’s Weekly Challenge”! Weekly, I will pose a challenge to help spur your thoughts, strengthen your skills or open your mind to new possibilities on your Agile journey.¬† While I have no way of following up with most of you regarding these challenges, I welcome you to post your feedback as a comment, send me a tweet @zandterman, or any other way you see fit.

This week’s challenge: Understand the “Why?” of the things you do.

All too often we go through our daily routines, never asking why we do some of the things we do, whether they be for ourselves or others. By understanding the reasons we do things, instead of just doing them, we can also then examine our reactions and whether those reactions were fitting to the desired outcome. Some examples:

  • Understand why you are doing a project. What are you trying to accomplish? What will you or others gain from this project? Given that understanding, is there a better way of delivering those gains?
  • Understand why you are in a particular mood. What have you done lately to affect your mood? Are you lacking something? What can be done to improve your mood?
  • Understand the why from other people as well. If someone asks you to do something and you don’t understand, ask and discuss why. You will come to a better understanding of that person, and likely respect their reason for asking as well.

Those are just a few possible “Why”‘s to comprehend. Some other tips:

  • Don’t just stop at one “Why?”. Question your reasoning until you reach true understanding. There is a practice called “5 whys” wherein you question a response 5 times, seeking the truest reason for a problem, action or result.
  • It’s OK to ask why! Do it in a respectful manner, and if someone is resistant or upset by this, explain your reasoning and have open and honest communication.
  • “Because I said so.”, “Because it’s my job”, “Because that’s the way the world is” and other responses of that ilk are generally cop-outs. They don’t lead to understanding. Examine further and find the root.

Good luck with this challenge. Please let me know your results, what you think of this challenge, and if you have any ideas for future Zan’s Weekly Challenges!


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