Downscaling to agile product development

An story of how a coalition can explore ways to evolve their daily work

Picture this. As agile coaches, we have been working on a programme to evolve product development and all we do. We are all freelancers and for this, we have created what we call the Coalition of the Willing. Where we address how change agents, product and developers today can embed sustainability into OUR daily practice, we have called it “Agile Sustainability in Practice: Navigating Circular Economy, SDGs, and Complexity Science”

The Goal

This month, we aimed to come together as a cohort, pause and open our minds to shift away from the default approach of what is considered 'normal' of divisiveness and degeneration and, instead, embrace a mindset that is more 'natural': distributive and regenerative by design.

One of the ideas introduced is, of course, Doughnut Economics.

Sapling cohort

However, the weekly sessions go beyond philosophical and conceptual reflection, showing accessible solutions in examples already materialized by this practice.
- Initiative register: ideas application from concepts to product/team at hand
- Peer-review: small write up which taps on SDG17, increasing connections
- In Practice: Call to action to experiment at work tangible some of the concepts covered that week

Applying principles to the very programme, for example: We have also designed a “Pay It Forward” scheme for every registration support towards someone who lacks the means, thus levelling the educational playing field.

What if, in all we do, we looked at 'the Doughnut' and asked ourselves: how could 'this' be within the safe and just space?


We discussed so many topics, from the pressures from traditional economic thinking to the importance of bringing all stakeholders along to be inviting rather than demanding, being engaged with place, and being conscious that although working in a digital era, there are materiality and natural governing laws that apply!

And as we wrapped the complexity science module, I wanted to share here  some of what goes through the participants' minds:

"Finally there’s a programme (overall) that makes your brain work. This module in particularly opens that space for connecting dots from a 3rd dimension."

"Making such a complex topic simple and connecting it so well to agile."

"I found the exploration of complex adaptive systems to be particularly valuable. It helped me understand the importance of continuous improvement and adaptation"

"One "aha" moment I had was realising the interconnectedness of various components within complex systems and how small changes can lead to significant outcomes (with the graph for example), which was eye-opening."

We are certainly into something. #BeTheChange

There is a better way to do business, the question is: Are you willing to be part of the solution?

A stepping stone

Explaining the ideas as inviting rather than imposing, That can really help focus, increase curiosity and it's inspiring. Using a narrative which is away from divisive and calls for abundance and hope.

Bringing 'the Doughnut' to the conversation acted as a seed of transformation. An enabler to reimagine what we do and embrace a more distributive and cooperative approach. This opened the opportunity to be able to touch on further concepts such as circular economy, systems thinking, regeneration and much more.

Basically, the aim of this effort is to evolve current agile practices to account for natural and social capital. Essentially skilling up for what’s on demand and what we ought to achieve within the next 6 years: The legally binding Paris Agreement. Not long at all now!

Let us continue to build upon the momentum we have created, one product and team at a time. Stronger Together.

It's up to us.




    Allen Gunderson

    Victoria, BC Canada

    Transform high school & undergraduate education systems that support a doughnut economic model.


    Join the DEAL Community!

    Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!