Ethics & Agile

We limit ourselves here to six concrete entry points for integrating ethics into an agile process flow, specifically based on the SCRUM approach (see figure). In this regard, our suggestions are no more than possible cues, starting points to shape a project. In the spirit of agile, they invite to be practically tested and adapted.

1. Product Backlog and User Story Creation

  • Explore the ethical dimensions of user stories during the initial phase of the Scrum process. Hereby, use can be made of established Responsible Innovation tools such as stakeholder analysis (see e.g. and scenario workshops (see e.g.
  • Encourage diverse perspectives and ensure ethical considerations are documented alongside functional requirements in ‘ethical user stories’.

2. Sprint Planning and Sprint Backlog Creation

  • Facilitate ethical discussions and deliberation during sprint planning. Make use of Ethics by Design tools such as the Moral IT-deck to translate values or principles into concrete requirements to be implemented by developers.
  • Explicitly address potential ethical challenges associated with planned work items.

3. Sprint Review

  • Conduct an ethics workshop during the sprint review involving stakeholders to gather diverse perspectives. Hereby, use can be made of several established Responsible Innovation tools (see https://cta-toolbox.l/ or
  • Use insights from the workshop to feed back into ‘ethical user stories’, ensuring ongoing ethical considerations.

4. Sprint Retrospective

5. Ethics Owner

  • Assign a dedicated ethics owner role within the Agile team, rotating for each sprint cycle. The ethics owner takes ownership of the ethics process, facilitates ethics activities (as suggested here), and ensures that ethical considerations are a focal point.
  • This rotating role promotes shared accountability and diverse perspectives in shaping the ethical dimensions of the development process.