Interview with Arie van Bennekum

It was my privilege to get in conversation with Arie van Bennekum. Let me highlight, he is the only non-U.S. citizen to sign the Agile Manifesto. His passion for agile methods is based on delivering to customers what they really need in a way that really suits end- users and business.

I present to you our conversation on evolution of Agile;

Q.1 How was Arie van as a kid?

Arie: My family name is “van Bennekum”, first name “Arie”, just to be accurate ;-). As a kid I was very energetic, my mother used to call me “The Flying Dutchman”.

Q2. People know you for being one of the original signatories of ‘Agile Manifesto”. What is that thing we don’t know about you?

Arie: That I work according the principle “you are the architect of your own life”. I do not believe “I can’t see this work”. I experiment, learn and improve.

Q3. Since the year you signed ‘Agile Manifesto’, how do you see it evolving?

Arie: Timing is everything. Technology and innovation go in such a pace today you can’t do without, Agile makes you future proof. Now I am still flabbergasted when people work Agile just in IT. Or when people say “we transform IT first”. Agile is what you do for and above all with the business. I did from my first commercial project everything in close cooperation with all stakeholders. That is the group you do it for…

Q4. How Wemanity came into the picture?

Arie: Together with Jean Christophe, owner and founder, we created an Agile organization on the inside with high level Agile expertise on the inside. We share the ambition to be leading in Agile transformations and use this to change the workplace for the better. This is where my IP IATM ( comes in. We have a very high success rate (happy customers) and very happy people inside Wemanity.

Q5. What do you like more – speaking in a conference or giving lectures in universities? What’s the difference?

Arie: I love speaking in public, master classes, management awareness sessions :-), etc. Universities are part of that package. Most of all I like when our teams are successful :).

Q6. If you have to give 3 tips to newbies in Agile, what it would be?


  1. Know that “Yes but” means you are not open, so start with being open. Too often people deny and get defensive. Be open and experiment.
  2. Change means learning. Learning means making mistakes. Accept that. For management; create the environment where this learning can be done safely. Shortly the improvement will come. It’s always first the investment and then the ROI. Make sure when it gets tough, people move forward and don’t step back in old routines because “it does not work”.
  3. Knowledge sharing is everything. Don’t invent the wheel. Learning should be part of the daily process, not limited to training. Do retros, implement improvements and share.

Q7. Mention one thing you want to change in how people implement Agile these days.

Arie: Agile coaches have to be Agile as well. I am flabbergasted when I meet Agile coaches who have an excuse to not be Agile. Agile is moving away from individual tasks to team delivery.  Be a Role model!

Q8. Any message for our audience?

Arie: I meet very dogmatic people. People who deny other people’s work, other people’s best practice. When we wrote the Manifesto none of us got to that point by denying. An Agilist is open, my open and respectful.



Are van Bennekum is one of the original authors of the Agile Manifesto and expert in the area of Agile Project Management, team facilitation, Agile techniques and user involvement. Believing in his team, facilitating them to reach their best combined with end user involvement have his focus when he speaks, presents, demonstrates and lectures about Agility.

Today, as Wemanity’s Thought Leader, Arie focusses his energy on leading big Agile transformations for big international corporates and researching better ways of integrating Agile. Arie is also Chair of the Agile Consortium International, lecturer at universities and keynote speaker at conferences.



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