Informed Consent — “the right of each individual potentially affected by a project to participate to an appropriate degree in decision making concerning that project” (Gail D. Baura, Engineering Ethics: An Industrial perspective)
“(T)he astronauts should have been informed of the possibility of O-ring failure before the Challenger launch…” — G. Baura
Often the people asked to pay down a risk are not the ones who suffer if the risk plays out. For Challenger, this distance contributed to the sacrifice of innocents.
As developers, we must never hide risk for which others suffer the consequences. This is core to Scrum. The team tells the Product Owner anything that may affect the business outcome of a project.
Scrum’s focus on self-directed teams instills the courage informed consent asks of us. Frequent opportunities to inspect and adapt gives it voice.
However, an ethical view obligates us to more than delivering business value and we cannot entirely cede our conscience to our product owners. We have an obligation to each other, our collective reputation, the people who use or indirectly benefit from our systems, and the public good. For the most part, these interests have no informed consent on our projects.
As Agile practitioners and Scrum advocates, how can we expand our conversation and help each other exercise due care?