How Agile Can Make a Difference for Climate Action and Sustainability

About this Publication

More and more people think about sustainability and their personal responsibility. For example, people talk about individual efforts which often include using less plastic, eating less meat, or reducing the carbon footprint we create by air travel. Beyond this personal focus, we are connecting agile practice and mindset to sustainability in our work. This includes a focus on sustainability in agile product development. In this report, we will share our experience using Agile to make a difference in the sustainability sector—that’s Sustainability by Agile. We, like many others, feel overwhelmed to confront a problem as wickedly complex as the climate crisis. However, we’ll show agile practitioners have many skills and methods at our fingertips that we can use to make a real difference.


This is an emergency! None of our agile experiences will matter at all if we can’t change the course of climate change. Like many people, we feel overwhelmed to confront a problem as wickedly complex as the climate crisis. However, as agile practitioners, we have many skills and methods at our fingertips that we can use to make a real difference. Through our work, we are continually learning how to work with uncertainty and wicked complexity. We’ve learned to approach complex problems with several integrated practices and approaches. We practice participative decision-making and invite different perspectives. We visualize the work, and we seek to act with awareness of the complex adaptive system. This is why we practice cycles of adaptive action and engage in continuous learning paired with iterative development. We’re responding to change—and helping others respond to change—by reacting quickly to feedback on outcomes.

We started asking ourselves, “How can we use our agile skills and experiences to act on climate change and other big issues of sustainability.” In this report, we will share our experience working with the non-profit climate and sustainability sector. We will define Sustainability by Agile as we explore how we used our agile skills to help one activist organization leverage its impact and create change. We will explore how we used an agile perspective to partner with organizations taking action in the sustainability sector to respond to climate change.

2.      What? Some Background

In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”

Baba Dioum, presenting to the 1968 triennial meeting of the General Assembly of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

2.1      Steve’s Story

I’ve made friends with a penguin (Sesame Street). I’ve made friends with several. In fact, I’ve been privileged to spend time caring for and holding space for rescued and rehabilitated penguins. Like many who travel to South Africa, I’ve met the feisty, black-footed African penguins in places where they live, both at Stony Point, on Betty’s Bay, and at Boulders Beach, in Simon’s Town. The Simon’s Town penguins star in the popular Netflix reality series/documentary Penguin Town (Red Rock Films). As seen on TV, the Simon’s Town penguins appear to be thriving, but in fact, their system has already collapsed. Their world is falling apart in real-time—largely unnoticed by the Netflix cameras and the happy tourists. Unless we affect change in this wickedly complex system, the wild African penguin will disappear from the earth forever in the next 15 years. That is the span of only one more penguin’s lifetime in the wild. That means that the chicks that hatched this year are some of the birds who will face the end of their species. That makes me weep real tears.

I became a Scrum Master 15 years ago. 15 years is no time at all. I can’t bear to think that I will be saying a final goodbye to the last wild African penguin before I retire from my work in Agile. I know I can’t change this outcome on my own, but I’m compelled to find help by saying: “Not on my watch!

African Black-footed Penguins at Boulders BeachFigure 1: African Black-footed Penguins at Boulders Beach

Once I started to think about the wicked problem of extinction faced by penguins, it was not a leap to connect that to other life that’s threatened in the collapsing ecosystem. All life on planet earth faces this existential crisis in 20 or 30 years. And yes. That clearly includes homo sapiens—ourselves.

What do I have to offer now that has the power to make ‘not on my watch’ meaningful? My work in Agile is helping people get new value and improved results by finding better ways of working and responding to change. So, I asked myself, “How can I use my agile experience to help people find better ways of responding to climate change?

2.2      Jutta’s Story

I’ve been sensitive to climate change since I was a teenager. I’ve protested because of acid rain, or Waldsterben (forest dieback), in the eighties.

As soon as it was possible to choose your energy provider in Germany, I switched to one that promises to deliver renewable energy only. That was more than 20 years ago. Then, as part of my studies to become an engineer, I trained as a pollution control commissioner on ecological environmentalism. However, for a long time, I thought my passion for sustainability could not be connected with my professional life, even though I kept trying to make a link.

Since 2018, I have been explicitly making the connection between Agile and Sustainability in my work; for example, in my last book, we have pointed out that agile organizations are expected to operate sustainably. In Eckstein and Buck, we provided a definition for the following agile values of transparency, self-organization, constant customer focus, and continuous learning that take sustainability into account (Eckstein & Buck):

  • Transparency: Make the company’s actions transparent both internally and externally.
  • Self-organization: Regard the company as one node of a global network that creates the environment it lives in together with other companies and societal institutions.
  • Continuous learning: Learn continuously from and with society to make the whole world a better place.
  • Constant Customer Focus: Understand the economic, ecologic, societal, and social environment as a customer that needs permanent attention.

Waldsterben (Forest Die-Off) in the Hartz, Lower Saxony, GermanyFigure 2: Waldsterben (Forest Die-Off) in the Hartz,
Lower Saxony, Germany (own picture)

In the past few years, I’ve concentrated on Sustainability in Agile —that is reducing the carbon footprint of agile development. However, the foundation of this report is developing my new focus on Sustainability by Agile—that is using my agile experience and skills for helping the sustainability and climate action sector increase its impact.

2.3      Our Client’s Story

Our client wanted to prepare for a new multi-year campaign to inspire and create action as part of their overall approach to both the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and commitments to the Paris Climate Accords before 2030 (SDGs). This client organization has developed a standard approach to his type of planning which includes: De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, stakeholder analysis, and SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) when evaluating ideas and plans (De Bono, and Nutt & Backoff). Our client also developed a train-the-trainer program for their internal facilitators, so that these workshops follow an agenda that produces the results they need. However, because of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, they faced the constraint of moving their planned 3-day kick-off event online. The participants asked for external facilitators for a change of pace. Their internal facilitators also wanted to learn about new possibilities for these kinds of workshops. Unlike many organizations we had approached, they mentioned that they had been working on an agile transformation. Therefore, they were also interested in learning how agile facilitators would approach the problem.

2.4      Relating Sustainability and Agile

Agile practitioners are looking beyond the traditional areas of software development where Agile began. The Agile Alliance is encouraging members to “[e]xplore how Agile can improve society and the environment” (Agile Alliance). We sought out activist organizations whose primary mission is addressing sustainability—especially climate change.

Sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland) There are many ways to think about sustainability independent of Agile. For example, you can think about increasing personal sustainability by reducing travel and choosing more sustainable options such as traveling by rail instead of air, eliminating meat from your diet, reducing your consumption of factory-farmed food, or reducing your consumption of streaming services like Netflix. Sustainability on the company level can focus on the energy used in the office (using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels), ensuring the carpets aren’t toxic, offering vegetarian or vegan food, and ensuring the company cars run electric.

But what about sustainability and Agile? We connect sustainability with Agile in two ways. Jutta extended Hilty’s definitions of sustainability in ICT (information and communication technology) and Sustainability by ICT to provide new definitions connecting sustainability with Agile:

  • Sustainability in Agile: That is being cautious about the harm we’re doing when working in an agile way (e.g., using a cloud server that is run by fossil fuels, using a Definition of Done that ignores an increase of the carbon footprint with each story delivered, creating electronic waste because the latest release requires a hardware update, or the agile team isn’t inclusive). Sustainability in Agile means making sustainability an integral part of the agile principles and practices. There are approaches to increasing Sustainability in Agile by raising awareness already (Eckstein & Melo). We want to see more work done here.
  • Sustainability by Agile: This is about using agile values, principles, and skills to improve sustainability beyond agile software and product development. That means offering agile practices and mindset either across industries in general or to the sustainability action sector, in particular. For example, we might use agile practices and mindset to help address the climate crisis.

Because there is so much that can be done, our focus for this experience report is on practicing and improving Sustainability by Agile, which means taking a more systems-oriented approach. While it’s easy to say that we want to work for Sustainability by Agile, it’s another thing to actually do it.

2.5      Our Challenge to Connect

We set out to connect with mission-driven groups and organizations with a mission to work for environmental sustainability or conservation. For us, that meant stepping outside of our agile “bubble” of commercial business.

When we started to connect with mission-driven organizations in the “sustainability action sector,” it appeared they existed in a different interconnected ecosystem. Many of them are Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). We found a sometimes-bewildering landscape of actors, opportunities, approaches, acronyms, agencies, funding connections, budgeting cycles, and traditions.

Agile is known in some of these organizations, but we were mostly connecting with people in this area who seemed to be encountering Agile for the first time. They were also curious to find out what we meant by Agile and agility. At the same time, for at least 20 years, these same people and organizations have been grappling with many challenges that are both the same and different compared to the challenges of software product development.

Our first temptation was to approach this new ecosystem as experts with exciting new agile answers. This approach led nowhere. After that, we started to align with a few generous people who were part of this ecosystem that was new to us. With curiosity and help from our new contacts, we began to appreciate the lingo, rhythms, and practices of this ecosystem. We also began to notice how things are done in this ecosystem which enabled us to understand and respect how they have been doing their transformative work. We’ve come to connect some of the common practices in this sector with Agile, see for example, “Connecting Agile with Theory of Change” (Eckstein & Holyer).

3.      So What? Getting Started

We continued to reach out to people in the non-profit sustainability sector, asking what was valuable to the actors in this sector. Connecting with people in this sector led to our first engagement with this client, a leading Environmental Non-Governmental Agency (ENGO).

3.1      A New Challenge to Connect

We were eager to partner with this ENGO and grateful for the short-term partnership. Yet, we struggled once again when we began the work. This time we struggled to connect with the needs of this single ENGO, or more specifically this one local area of concern for this global organization. Like before, our assumptions were still a little out-of-sync. For example, in one of our first meetings we wanted to check that we had a joint understanding of who their campaign will be for. We thought of their “campaign” as the “product,” so we asked about their “customers.” This question upset the client and it became clear that (a) the term customer is not part of their vocabulary, and (b) they told us “For everything we do if we have a ‘customer’ then there is only one ‘customer’, and that’s the planet.” Here was our first disconnect. On a side note, as a thought exercise, we’ve previously asked our commercial clients: “What if the planet is our customer?”

We also acknowledge that there are ENGOs and other NPOs with customers for certain products that relate to their mission. However, we believe they often think of the planet or the future for their primary customer—whether they use the term “customer” or not.

3.2      Coping with Wicked Complexity

When we say wicked complexity, we are alluding to the idea of wicked problems. These are problems that result from a complex web of interconnection and uncertainty. A wicked problem is unfixable because of this. A wicked problem has no single complete solution, and in fact, has many incomplete solutions. Even more confounding, any attempt to fix some part of an unfixable wicked problem is likely to either cause, worsen, or showcase problems in another part of the interconnected system. Just when you think you’ve fixed the unfixable, the wicked problem shows up in a new way. That is why people say that attempts to solve the unsolvable are neither right nor wrong; they are simply better or worse (Sarkar & Kotler). And yet these problems must be addressed.  It is important to note, that no matter what we feel about climate change, wicked doesn’t mean evil in this sense, it means there is no best solution.

In agile software development, we’ve developed practical experience working with wicked issues. We see this as an important and useful connection, and we decided to build on this connection. How many issues are there more wicked than climate change and extinction? (Our answer: Not many.)

For addressing the wicked complexity challenging this ENGO, we decided to use Adaptive Action as the overall structure for the three days we would work with them (Adaptive Action). Therefore, on the first day, we focused on asking ‘What?’ for gathering data and helping everyone find themselves “on the same page.” On the second day, we concentrated on gaining insights by asking ‘So what?’ Finally, on the last day, we asked ‘Now what?’ to identify the next actions.

3.3      Getting to Work

We combined Adaptive Action with continuous feedback for adjusting our approach to the current needs of the participants. While we prepared to quickly adapt to use a number of techniques from our agile coaching and facilitation toolkit, we also planned four significant facilitation approaches or interventions designed to help the group co-create desirable outcomes. We planned to use Open Space Technology (OST), story mapping, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®[1] methods (LSP), and EventStorming over the three days we would be working with this group (Owen, Patton, EventStorming).

“What?” (Day 1): Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology is an approach to facilitation and leadership addressing urgent issues. We often simply call it Open Space. It provides a simple organic structure which in turn creates the conditions that attract people to self-organize in order to tackle pressing questions and actions. Harrison Owen, who says he discovered OST, links the guiding principles and practices of Open Space to the biological preconditions for life and self-organization in complex adaptive systems. He makes this link using Stuart Kauffman’s work on the origins of life (Owen). We find this makes Open Space one of the best approaches for tackling the wicked complexities of the climate crisis.

On the first day of our work with the whole group, we held a classic Open Space. We invited our workshop participants to spend the day following their passion guided by their responsibility. Their big question for this day of Open Space was “How do we change our sustainability game for a real impact?” In the past, our client relied on a well-known, predefined structure for this type of workshop. With OST, we wanted to signal the workshop could mark a real change (not just a change of pace). We also wanted the participants to experience what it could be like to embrace self-organization and emergence after moving away from their predefined structure. Chris Corrigan writes, “​​Open Space embodies a dance from individual intention, to collective storytelling, to self-organization to … action” (Corrigan). We wanted to invite participants to this “dance”, not just on the first day with the open space activities, but also with that way of thinking on the second and third day. Indeed, at the end of this first day, the participants told us they’d made a surprising discovery: “We’re ready to rock!” On the other hand, some of them also told us they missed having more structure.

“So What?'” (Day 2): Story Mapping and LEGO SERIOUS PLAY

We adapted our plan for the second day by offering more structure. We introduced some agile practices, namely user stories, and story mapping. We also introduced a kanban-inspired board. Our goal was to help them “make the work visible” and make the process and progression transparent. Building on this we would attempt to create a story map with the group as described by Jeff Patton (Patton).

In our initial offer to the client, we’d already proposed several LEGO SERIOUS PLAY(LSP) design-thinking activities for an engaging approach to lateral thinking (partly as an alternative to the Six Thinking Hats exercise). Participants said they didn’t recognize the value of the story mapping activity. We adapted our plan again by ending the story mapping session early (although maybe not early enough) and started working with a remote self-guided form of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY that Steve developed to extend the SERIOUS PLAY methods. (We had already arranged for each remote participant to have LEGO materials at their home offices.). We challenged participants to create LEGO models and tell stories with them to describe elements of their new campaign. We asked them to consider De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and SWOT analysis as they completed the challenges and told their stories. Participants said the LEGO workshop helped create completely new ideas—which was our intent.

“Now What?” (Day 3): EventStorming

We introduced EventStorming on the last day. According to Alberto Brandolini who created the approach, “EventStorming is a flexible workshop format for collaboratively exploring complex business domains.” While Alberto lists several types of EventStorming workshop, we approached it as a way to help a group of people model an event-driven software system. This approach thrives on including as many diverse, non-technical stakeholders to participate as possible.” (EventStorming).

We hypothesized that EventStorming would help everyone visualize and plan actions for the wickedly complex system they wanted to influence. However, we would be abstracting a completely open complex adaptive system (rather than a closed software system that is potentially manageable). This was a new game, and we thought that EventStorming could be a game-changer.

Our challenge was to find an explanation of EventStorming for these real-world systems. We needed new descriptions of ‘system’ and ‘event’, and the explanations needed to be quick, intuitive and above all simple enough to be useful. That’s what an effective EventStorming workshop requires.

First, without talking about software, we said they would visualize and sense their real-world system by identifying events. Next, we clarified that an event is any action that could potentially affect the state of the system. After this description, we followed a typical facilitation plan for an EventStorming workshop.

We didn’t say every action potentially changes the state of a complex adaptive system, nor did we explain that the complex adaptive system will seek equilibrium or status quo making it very resistant to change no matter the event. We were confident that everyone was aware of that on some level (some more than others), but we were also relying on the wisdom of the crowd to surface that in the (virtual) room.

We asked them to think of an outcome in the future. We invited them to identify significant events (or actions) that they could potentially create as part of the campaign or that others might be expected to take. We also asked them to imagine unplanned and surprising events. We did not tell them to limit themselves to the positive or to the negative. In fact, we encouraged them to consider all potentially significant events.

The visualization component of the workshop allowed them to think of these events occurring in time within the story they were building about how their campaign could lead to their desired outcome. We made it visually clear some events occur more than once. A powerful feature of EventStorming is that participants are not constrained to think in any sequence. You neither work forward nor backward, you place potential events into the EventStorming map as they occur to you. We asked everyone to “storm” (or “swarm”) on a Miro Board created for this purpose. Although we invited everyone to self-organize into smaller groups, they all “stormed” together and ended up in one group (which they found valuable). Most participants agreed this was a very valuable visualization approach. In summary, the group managers were happy about learning EventStorming as a new facilitation technique. The other participants also liked EventStorming for the new conversations it quickly generated.

4.      Now What? Outcomes

Participants identified the important outcomes from the complete three-day workshop including, “There’s still so much to do,” and “This won’t be as easy, as we thought it would be.” We believe that is about increased awareness of the magnitude of the problem that came from another perspective on the larger wickedly complex system. Although another read of the first feedback could be they wanted to generate more outcomes and answers than they did.

They told us, “We were really astonished by the unexpected connections that emerged,” and “it created a surprising new direction for action.” Of course, not all feedback was positive. We also heard, “Our old processes (such as the Six Thinking Hats) gave the best information,” and “We didn’t build on the ‘flipcharts’ from the initial Open Space.”

4.1      Observations

The simple organic structure of Open Space is one of the fundamental things that make it effective. We wonder if the participants felt it lacked structure because compared to what they were used to OST is very “free-form.” At the end of the Open Space day, participants were very impressed with the experience overall. They said they made new surprising connections because of the group intelligence in the room, and they were thrilled that people knew more about their theme and their system than they realized. Although the client already used OST in the community at times, they had not considered using it internally. They are now clamoring for more internal Open Spaces as an organizing framework.

Throughout the workshop, the participants said they missed using De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and SWOT analysis activities (De Bono and Nutt & Backoff). We frequently suggested they use any technique they found helpful during their breakout sessions. However, they only worked with the Six Thinking Hats near the end of the second day after we created space for that and then explicitly invited them to self-organize around how they conducted the activity.

Overall, the feedback at the end of the second workshop day was a little messy—it was mixed but it wasn’t very positive. Many facilitators, including both of us, experience this situation often. Participants are excited and confident at the beginning of a workshop. Then they are a bit confused and uncertain in the middle (sometimes called “the messy middle”). Finally, they converge toward new creative, practical insights and actions toward the end. That is exactly what happened here, but as facilitators—despite all our experience— it never feels good that people are confused or frustrated. Although they were ambivalent about LEGO SERIOUS PLAY at the end of the second day, they told us later it brought new insight and they want to continue using it internally.

As we hoped, participants agreed that EventStorming was a real game-changer. EventStorming was a different approach that unlocked new insights, and it was similar enough to their own approaches to be familiar for them to work with it. EventStorming allowed everyone to contribute at their own pace so that they could collaborate and explore in a creative way. Participants were not enthusiastic about other mapping and visualization practices like user stories and story mapping and felt these practices did not add value. We feared they might not see the value of EventStorming, but we were very glad to receive a first confirmation of our hypothesis that EventStorming would help the participants grapple with a wickedly complex system in a new way. Finally, we were happy we continued adapting and experimenting with techniques that we know hold value for groups at work. We were pleased we “trusted the process” and that we didn’t give up taking risks to introduce good practices.

4.2      What We Learned About the Work

The organizational structure of our client was apparently very hierarchical, and at first thought, that seemed to us to be a contradiction for an NPO—especially in the sustainability sector. Later, it didn’t really surprise us. We wonder if the hierarchical nature of this ENGO is related to its strong donor community and implied quarterly and annual cycles for budgeting and reporting. It seems natural to us that an ENGO would embrace a flat grass-roots type structure. We wonder if this is the most likely reason, they were enthusiastic about the different structures OST offered them. Participants told us it was the first time that everyone could suggest themes, self-organize, and guide the workshop themselves. From what we observed, it’s most likely that the managers offered themes, and the participants filled in the blanks previously.

During all three days, we thought many of the participants showed signs that they were experiencing extreme pressure. They acted as if they were in a state of acute stress or hyperarousal, and they were easily thrown off balance. We honored their experience and realized there were many reasons for their emotional reactions. We also believe that their fight for a “hopeless cause” played a significant factor in their “stressed-out” condition. We wondered if this was a continuous state for them. Looking at it through a lens that focuses on strength and weakness (they loved SWOT), their strength was bringing all the passion and responsibility for making the world a better place. Their weakness was best expressed by one of the participants: “We’re all so emotional about that topic, we have it in our heart and soul to make a difference.” This was hard to ignore as facilitators. We learned in “facilitators’ school,” disturbance always takes precedence, every once in a while, we had to create the space for participants to take an emotional break (next to the regular breaks).

Agile is known to some NPOs. The client we worked with reported some projects were using Scrum. Yet, it may have not occurred to them that Agile is more than Scrum or how it’s based on the agile values and principles, —meaning there are more methods that can help them to be more successful (and participative). We learned that our skills and experiences using Agile for commercial organizations can be valuable to NPOs.

4.3      How We Changed

During the workshop, the client’s managers frequently asked participants to “trust the process.” This is something we also say frequently, but after the workshop, we realized we needed to hear it again. We both trust the power of OST, and we wanted to hold space for the participants to be in Open Space for all three days of the workshop. We did not propose this to the client, so after they accepted our offer to facilitate for them, we felt committed to using most of the approaches already discussed.

We’ve observed it can take time for people to develop the experience to fully embrace and trust OST. Based on past experience in commercial settings we fully believe that if we had held OST for the full three days of the workshop, the client would have produced all the outcomes they needed and would be positive about the results. When we observed the participants’ ambivalence at times, we knew that we could have trusted our own process to hold Open Space for three full days. The same was when we experienced how they relied on us to guide them to use well-loved workshop formats when they were already able to self-organize around their passions and knowledge of those approaches. We do want to acknowledge that part of our work as facilitators would include nurturing the safety for this within the hierarchy. After the first day, all Open Space participants (not only the managers) pointed out, how helpful it was to really trust the process. Now, we will be braver about trusting our process.

When working in the sustainability industry, be prepared for the engagement to change you – not only professionally but also personally. In our example, a huge part of the new campaign was about the carbon footprint of producing specific food. As a result, we both gave up dairy butter and now consume only vegan butter because we learned that it requires 20 kilograms of milk to produce one kilogram of butter. Based on a UN report, as reported by the Guardian, “More than 40% of livestock’s climate footprint is made up of methane emissions, mostly from beef and dairy cattle” (Guardian). As one of the participants after applying De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, “butter is extremely bad for the climate” and a surprisingly good place to begin reducing methane emissions.

In the interconnected complex adaptive system, Steve is sure when fewer cows are farting in northern Europe, there are happier penguins way down south.

We felt more connected to this client and their cause than we do with most of our commercial clients. For example, it doesn’t have the same impact on us to facilitate a workshop on Java versus Rust. Climate change affects each of us—meaning that we’re also stakeholders in many different ways.

4.4      What’s next for us?

As agilists, we have gained specific experience working on wicked issues and complex challenges. We know how to “build a cathedral” (one masonry stone at a time). It’s time to leverage our skills and experience for supporting the sustainability sector because none of our agile improvements in product development will matter at all if we can’t change the course of climate change.

We will continue to uncover ways of connecting sustainability and Agile by working for Sustainability in Agile and Sustainability by Agile. We invite you to join us. We have a question for you. And a challenge. How can you practice Agile in a way that meets “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland). How can you help others do that?

Now, what’s next for all of us?  Please join us in this work and share your own experiences. It may be unusual to include a call to action in an experience report, but we are not ashamed to do that now. Many hands make for lighter work, as the saying goes.

5.      Finding Our Kinship

As Baba Dioum said, people will only save something when they love it.  But they can only love it once they know it. They can only know it if they learn about it. And they can only learn if they are taught. We want to share our experiences if not to teach then at least to start a new discussion that invites people to learn, know, and understand.

According to Richard Powers, author of The Overstory, “Kinship is the recognition of shared fate and intersecting purposes. It is the discovery that the more I give to you, the more I have. Natural selection has launched all separate organisms on a single, vast experiment, and kinship glimpses the multitudes contained in every individual organism. It knows how everything that gives deepest purpose and meaning to any life is being made and nurtured by other creatures.” (Powers)

In our present course, with 400,000 species on the threatened and endangered list (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species), it’s not a question of if humankind will land on that list, it’s a question of when. Life will continue on the planet earth. The question is whether we can use our skills to shift the wicked complexities of sustaining a future to save ourselves and the things we love.

Is it too late? Following the principles of Open Space, it starts when it starts. And, when it’s over, it’s over. But that also means it’s not over until it’s over, and it’s not too late to start.

6.      Acknowledgements

We want to thank (anonymously) our workshop participants who trusted us enough to be part of our journey. We want to thank Mareika Britten, Max Levine, and Jennifer Holyer for their introductions and knowledge sharing. Thank you, Sallyann Freudenberg and Liz Keogh, for continuing to remind us Agile won’t matter at all if we can’t change the course of the climate crisis. Kudos also to Ellen Grove and the Agile Alliance for creating the Agile MiniCon on Earth Day 2022, and thanks for inviting us to report on our experience. Thanks, Benjamin Bindewald, for the picture of penguins. Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank our shepherd, Joseph (Joe) Yoder.


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SDGs: 17 sustainable development goals by the United Nations,

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About the Author

Steve Holyer is an experienced trainer, coach, facilitator and consultant helping organisations unleash value and deliver results. He is also a frequent international speaker on product ownership, Scrum and The Agile Fluency Model. He serves as advocate and mentor for companies, leaders and change agents looking for a better way of working using Agile practices in a productive, fulfilling, and fun way. Steve learned his craft serving as a Scrum Master with multiple teams and organisations, so he knows how to change an organisation from the inside. Since 2000, he has been based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Jutta Eckstein works as an independent coach, consultant, and trainer. She has helped many teams and organizations worldwide to make an Agile transition. She has unique experience in applying Agile processes within medium-sized to large-distributed mission-critical projects. Jutta has recently co-created an assessment for (agile) teams to gauge the environmental, social, and economic impact of their products and services. Besides that, she has published her experience in her books Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy (dubbed BOSSA nova and pair-written with John Buck), Agile Software Development in the Large, Agile Software Development with Distributed Teams, Retrospectives for Organizational Change, and together with Johanna Rothman Diving for Hidden Treasures: Uncovering the Cost of Delay in your Project Portfolio. Jutta is a member of the Agile Alliance (having served the board of directors from 2003-2007) and a member of the program committee of many different American, Asian, and European conferences, where she has also presented her work. She holds an M.A. in Business Coaching & Change Management, a Dipl.Eng. (MSc.) in Product-Engineering, a B.A. in Education, and is trained as a pollution control commissioner on ecological environmentalism.