LS – Nine Whys

Liberating structures: Nine Whys

What is meant by it?

In the world of the agile community, the ‘Nine Whys’ play a great role as these liberating structures can help in making everything more clear and simple. Whenever you are discussing something with a group, always make sure to explain your point with clarity. Once the point is clarified only then you should move onto the next question.

How is it done?

Firstly, you will ask everyone what would they do if they were working on a specific matter and then ask them to make a short list of tasks. After that, you will have to keep asking them ‘Why’ related questions nine times so that the participants can get understand their work in a deeper way. There should be chairs for people to sit on without any tables and the number of groups can be unlimited. Everyone will be participating equally. First pairs will come, then groups of four people will come and then everyone will come as a whole. Every person will be interviewed by his partner for 5 minutes. Each pair will then share their experience with another pair for five minutes.

What is its purpose?

This technique will help you in knowing the importance of group members and it will also help you in organizing a momentum through your stories. Therefore, you will have to provide clear answers so that everyone can move forward.

Tips and Traps

You will need to focus on the following tips and traps:

  • Always try to avoid judging other people and make sure that everyone feels welcomed and comfortable to work with you.
  • Have fun with your partner and keep on asking them ‘why’.
  • Keep digging in for more information by using the ‘why?’ questions as much as you can.
  • Keep the stories shared between you and your pair confidential.


Following are some of the circumstances where you may have to use this liberating structure:

  • To clarify the purpose of launching a new product.
  • In the start of any coaching session.
  • To clarify your person purpose as an individual.
  • To clarify why you are launching a collaborative research work.

— Slimane Zouggari