We need purpose to do good work and we need shared purpose to have good collaboration.  Purpose is guiding us and driving us. Purpose pulls us forward when we meet and work together. In meetings, workshops and learning processes, we need to ground people in reason (Rich Goidel).

That is what we – Nur Rokhmah Hidayati and Ewen Le Borgne – did in our pre-workshop coaching session preparing for the Liberating Structures Immersion workshop for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning MEL specialists. We did Nine Whys to find clarity. Our question was: *Why do you want to update and adapt your Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning work?*

How Nine Whys works

It is a mini-interview between two people. As preparation, each person drafts a quick list of his/ her purpose, ambitions, desires. Then, the first person shares her/ his motivation, the partner supports the query by asking “Why?” “Why is… important to YOU personally?” gently up to 9 times (it could be any between a couple and two dozen times, no strict math here!) Then change roles. (Check here for a more details on Nine Whys.)

Asking why needs some rigor

It turns out that asking why several times in a row is not so easy and can be irritating. It might be that why is an uncomfortable question and we tend to give up too quickly? In any case, I observe that there is a tendency to deviate to other questions which are easier to answer: how, what, who, when. Why is probably an often neglected question (but since Simon Sinek a famous one).

The benefit of Nine Whys is in the repetition. By circling around the why we clarify why we do what we do and what we are trying to achieve with our initiatives, for ourselves and with and for others. Why, why, why invites us to dig deeper and uncover the ultimate outcome we are trying to get to. By keeping challenging ourselves with this simple question, we can find our passionate purpose that is triggering us (if you look for you passionate purpose have a look at Purpose changes everything, you will love it).

Digging deeper is worth the effort

Doing this query in pairs with a supportive listening partner is doing the trick. The partner’s presence and the gentle and curious way how the why is pronounced helps to dig deeper and uncover some aspects and unnoticed truths.  

Some insights I overheard when I worked with Nine Whys:

  • It tests your assumptions nicely. You really have to dig deep in your thoughts
  • It brings your assumptions out to the open
  • Gives deeper insights, let’s you reflect more
  • Helps developing a notion of a purpose
  • Helps discover multiples purposes 
  • Shows that purpose is dynamic and multi layered 


During our Liberating Structures online workshop we will be exploring such questions. 

  • How can we organize our collaboration in our field of work in the most compelling, dynamic and productive way? 
  • Which practices that no longer satisfy us do we need to let go of? 
  • How can we bring our collaborative approaches to the next level and contribute our best to the challenges at hand? 

Collaboration is important and meetings and workshops are important in collaboration. With Liberating Structures we will love our meetings, workshops and training because they energise us and lead to results. 

Liberating Structures are “method dwarfs” with huge impact.

Andrea Iff

Sign up NOW!

Liberating Structures Online Immersion Workshop for Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Specialists
Part 1: 19 & 20 April and part 2: 10 & 11 May, 13h30 -16h30 CET
GROUP OFFER: If a group signs up with 3 people, the 3rd person will join for free!
>>> Information and registration <<<

Other upcoming Options

Liberating Structures Online Immersion Workshop
May 31 – June 3, 14h-17h CET
BONUS: Sign up as soon as possible and you will profit from up to 2 explorative Broad Stroke Sessions on April 23, 15h30-17h and May 18, 15h30-17h CET
GROUP OFFER: If a group signs up with 4 people, the 4th person will join for free!
>>> Information and registration <<<

Could Liberating Structures guide us into the leadership we need?
April 28, 9-12h CET on Zoom 
>>> Information and registration <<<