Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Thoughtworks Responsible Tech Playbook

Martin Fowler talks about the newly-released Thoughtworks Responsible Tech Playbook

The playbook is a free PDF download of about 50 slides, the bulk of which is a summary of a dozen tools and methods that teams can use to better understand their responsibilities. Each summary is a couple of slides outlining the basics of the technique: what is it, who created it, when we should use it, how it works, and our perspective on its place in our development efforts.

Thoughtworks is, primarily, a consultancy which specializes in development tools and processes, and the playbook is basically links to a number of such tools and processes. Some of these tools were designed by Thoughtworks themselves, others are incorporated from outside Thoughtworks.

I definitely like the high-level three-step overview from the playbook:

  1. Open up perspectives: Solicit different points of view to think through a wider range of potential consequences and outcomes.
  2. Mitigate potential risks: Identify and address ethical challenges and vulnerabilities before they become bigger problems.
  3. Unpack stakeholder values: Ensure the technology is designed to meet the needs and support the values of those it is intended to serve.

I'm quite familiar with some of the techniques, such as Security Threat Modeling. Many of the techniques are new to me, and some sound interesting (Data Ethics Canvas, Consequence Scanning, Ethical Explorer), while others sound a bit gimicky and forced (Tarot Cards of Tech).

There seems to be a fair amount of overlap among the approaches, so probably there is a subset that gets you much of the benefit with a relatively small impact to your current processes.

There's a lot to chew on here, and some new ideas I'll probably think about some more.

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