Ethics in Agile or ethical Agile ? - Introduction to practical philosophy and what we (Agilists) can learn from it.

What do you think about our current state of Agile? 

Socrates says an unexamined mind is not worth living. 

The current state of Agile is struggling to go beyond some core values and principles. There are practically dozens of frameworks but very less agility than we see in practice. One of the reasons might be there is no sound theoretical underpinning for the body of knowledge around Agility.  Most of the Agile literature seldom passes the norms of the scientific method. It mainly employs casual and sometimes self-serving empirical evidence; it is rarely grounded on well-established theoretical tradition. Lacks intellectual rigour.

Why we should look at philosophy to address the current state of Agile?

May be the current scientific methods are not suitable for developing a solid basis for Agility. May we may have to start from the fundamentals, the first principles. 

In the session, a very brief introduction to Philosophy (as relevant to the agile community) will be shared. Philosophy is the love for Wisdom (Philo - love, Sophi - wisdom). 

What is ethics?  (moral philosophy) 

Where do our ideas of right and wrong come from? 

For example - our notion of freedom  (or free speech) is not the same across the globe. 

Another example. " Is it okay to provide a critical and negative review comment on a public/social media platform"?"

The notion of right and wrong - comes from our preferences.  A group of people debate, and critique an assertion and that group agrees that the assertion is good for the community that becomes a law. As the preferences of the community undergo change the laws get amended or changed or replaced by a new one. 

The scientific method is based on pure rationality maybe there is a need to re-look at this aspect. 

The world of Ethics is not black and white like the world of rationality. 

Some of the challenges in creating a framework for "Ethics in Agile" can be understood better if we have clear idea of ethics. 

three main types of ethical theory: deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics. 

Deontology : This is an ethical theory that uses rules to determine whether an action is right or wrong. It’s a way of thinking about ethics that emphasizes our duty to follow universal moral rules that apply equally to everyone.

You can observe this in religious doctrines. Example: You don't lie always tell the truth no matter what. 

consequentialism: it’s the theory that determines whether an action is right or wrong by looking to its consequences. It’s what people are talking about when they say that the ends justify the means.

It is based on context and consequence. If a gunman has attacked the school and asks where the children are hiding you lie (you don't tell the truth) to the gunman to save the children. 


virtue ethics: takes an entirely different approach. Here, the focus is not on doing moral actions, but on developing a moral character. 

For example, instead of getting hung up on the idea that everything you say has to be true, instead just focus on generally being a more honest person. 

Aristotle believed that humans have the latent potential to develop social virtues that benefit society, like honesty, courage, and patience – but these virtues don’t just arise naturally or spontaneously. We all know that we also have a latent potential to be lazy and selfish! So, virtue ethics proposes that we cultivate social virtues through education and practice.

Now, what do you think are the challenges in "Ethics in Agile"? Why do we need to think of "Ethics in Agile" or we should all practice ethical Agile? 







Outline/Structure of the Talk

0-05 -- Introduction and setting the context 

05-35 - Ethical models  and limitations

35-45 - Questions, discussion and closure


Learning Outcome

increased awareness and appreciation of the challenges of "ethics". 

invoke interest in the beauty of philosophy and its practical to use in our daily life.

My intention is people leave the session with more questions than answers !!  We have more than enough information but we don't have the right questions to explore. 

My question to ponder is .... "How I can influence our agile community to become ethical? "

Target Audience

Leadership team, Head of CoE, Policy makers.

Prerequisites for Attendees


schedule Submitted 9 months ago

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