A few more words are in order about how Truthfulness is the foundation upon which the three Agile Axioms rest. Taking them one at a time:
1. We are Creators
Truthfulness operates at a very deep level for this agile principle. People typically are not aware of their own need to shape reality, to create things. Developing truthfulness helps a person to uncover this fundamental capacity and bring it to fruition. Truthfulness also helps a person reflect on the results of their creative work. This is essential for learning how to become a more effective creator. In an agile team, truthfulness is also essential in developing the interpersonal trust necessary to know when the process of creation is going aright or awry.
2. Reality is Perceived
This principle is the most obvious domain where Truthfulness plays a role. In this instance, being able to express one’s perceptions and share them with others in a truthful manner allows others to develop empathy and formulate an honest response. If Truthfulness is missing, then perception will be based on something other than reality (well,… technically it will be based on the reality of an untruth). In an agile environment, where the value of communication and collaboration is extremely high, truthfulness helps to develop a shared perception for a team.
3. Change is Natural
Here the role of Truthfulness is simple: an agile team cannot function if it is not Truthful about change. Recognizing and communicating change so that a team can embrace it and adapt to it depends completely on people being forthright and truthful about change.
Much of my thinking about Truthfulness comes from the study of a passage from the Sacred Scriptures of the Baha’i Faith: “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues.” I have also had substantial discussions with other agile coaches about the importance of truthfulness and its key role in developing trust.