10 years of Agile @ Crisp. Next challenge: Global Warming!

10 years ago, 2007, me and a few Crisp colleagues embarked on a mission: be best in Sweden at helping companies become agile. We had experienced first-hand the power of agile development, and wanted to use this newfound super-power to help both Crisp and our clients improve. Others joined us and – tadaa!  – Agile Crisplet was born (and the concept of crisplets)! That was the year I taught my first Certified ScrumMaster course together with Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum. Since then we’ve co-trained almost 30 courses! About 2-3 times per year. In fact, May 22-23 is our 10 year anniversary (join us at the course in Stockholm!).

Now 10 years has passed since our Agile Crisplet was formed, and I’m happy to see we have achieved more than we ever could have dreamed!

Dispensing with false humility here, we’ve somehow managed to become one of the world leaders in this field! Famous agile and lean experts partner with us. Super well-known product companies, large telecoms and banks, even government organizations, turn to us as first choice for agile guidance and training. Our videos and articles and books have racked up millions of hits, and we are basically overwhelmed with requests to do coaching, write book forewords, do conference talks and workshops, and run training courses. I’ve done almost 30 keynotes in 20+ countries. I’m amazed (and overwhelmed) every time I look at my inbox, I’ve had to hire an assistant just to turn down the 95% of all requests that we simply don’t have capacity to handle.

OK, so now what?

10 years is a long time, and now it’s time for a new focus! At least for me (Crisp is a no-CEO company where people are free to do whatever they want).

My personal mission has been “Help companies improve”, then it shifted to “Help the Good Guys Win”. I’ve been focusing on companies that have a good culture and build products that make the world a better place – companies like Spotify and LEGO. “Good Guys” in my book.

But I’ve gotten a little bit too comfortable in my role as “Agile Guru” (I don’t really like the term, but so many people call me that so I’ve decided to just accept it). My work started feeling repetitive, like I was doing things out of habit rather than out of passion. And at the same time, I was getting increasingly worried about global warming, especially after a climate change denier took the helm of one of the most powerful countries in the world.

And then it hit me. Shit! I’m solving the wrong problem! Here I am, feeling good about myself for helping cool, successful companies become even more cool and successful. And at the same time, the world is facing an unprecedented disaster, the sixth mass extinction event over the past 500 million years, caused by humans, and I’m doing nothing at all about it (in fact, making it worse by flying all over the place)! We like to take our existence for granted, but the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 160 million years (800 times longer than the human era so far!), and they were wiped in the last extinction event 65 million years ago. How can I look my children in the eyes, while we screw up the planet they are inheriting?

Over the years I’ve built up this wonderful arsenal of problem solving skills, so how about I use it to help solve the right problem instead? I started studying up on global warming, and realized that this really is the world’s biggest and most important problem, anything else seems tiny and insignificant in comparison. Kind of depressing, because what the heck can I do about it, I’m just one guy and a totally newbie on climate stuff.

But then I realized – wait! 10 years ago, I started off as a newbie (well… not an expert at least) on agile, and now my colleagues and I have managed to make a major world-wide impact on how companies work, helped them create more humane work environments, helped them succeed with their projects, helped them build awesome products and organizations. I’ve lost count of the number of people that have said “You changed my life” (for the positive… I think…)! What if we can pull off the same stunt again? A bit optimistic, yes, but worth a try!

We’ve developed a big arsenal of really useful skills – software development, system architecture, viral communication, teaching, facilitation, structured problem solving, community building, and more! AND we’re lucky enough to have some discretionary time and money – most of us don’t have to work full-time just to make a living. So let’s put it to use!

I started looking for solutions. The past two months I’ve been busy. Partnered with experts. Joined a solar energy startup and formed an electricity company. Formed a community – Climate Crisplet (half of Crisp, 20 people, joined almost immediately!). Studied up on CO2 emissions, started blogging about it, and started making an animated video. Found awesome tools like www.electricitymap.org. Invested in solar panels in Africa via Trine, an awesome startup that is trying to eliminate energy poverty (and reducing global warming as a side effect). Supported development of aviation biofuel. I’m basically exploring the solution space!

My biggest insight is that there is hope! The solutions are out there. Electric cars. Solar and wind energy. Mainly, we just have to stop burning oil and coal. And there is no reason for us to do so anymore, not for energy at least, and not from an economic standpoint either (even if we ignore climate impact, which is massive). A lot of very passionate smart people are at work saving the world. Lots of really cool stuff is happening! But it needs to happen faster, A LOT faster.

So that’s my new mission and focus: Help reduce global warming.

And that really translates to help find ways to reduce global CO2 emissions, which right now translates to help promote solar and wind energy and electric cars! And make oil & coal energy obsolete as fast as possible.

I’m definitely not an expert on this, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can. Exploring ways to make a difference, partnering with others who know more, spreading knowledge, and inspiring others to help out. People like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Al Gore are already making a huge difference, but the more people that pitch in the better.

My mantra is every ton counts, because one ton of CO2 is one ton, regardless of where in the world it is reduced. That’s my driving KPI.

Climate Crisplet is a starting point, so join if you are interested! I can’t promise strong leadership, just a gathering point for people that share this interest and are looking for ways to help out and inspire each other.

I have no idea where the journey will lead, but I’m enjoying it so far! After 10 years of being an “expert” it’s very refreshing to get to be a newbie again 🙂










12 responses on “10 years of Agile @ Crisp. Next challenge: Global Warming!

  1. Thank you Henrik


    We need stars like you to increase the awareness
    I see so much waste of supplies and energy in offices (paper not recycled, light still on after leaving…)
    If you can read french, I wrote a post about exemplarity of agile business here:

    I try to start small: recycling the incredible amount of supplies after each agile conference!

  2. Hi Henrik,

    I remember when I was working many years ago as a beginning scrum master. I presented your scrum checklist to my scrum team for the first time. I thought there is no more than this. Then for many years more, your posts, videos and lectures were a great dose of inspiration for me :). I was very happy this year to took part on stage in your lego flow simulation here in poland.

    I mimicked your workshops like lego simulation or cause-effect diagrams, root cause analysis, scrum checklists, etc. and they were always a good source of discovering new things to improve.

    I wish you and your companions good luck on this fascinating yourney of reducing global warming and put my fingers crossed

    Thank you for what you did for our industry and good luck!

  3. This is so great! I totally agree on everything you say. I think you should look up Backcasting as a method of how to work with this type of complex problems. I can recommend to pay a visit to Challenge lab at Chalmers if you are in Gothenburg. They work with really cool master thesis based on sustainability problems in Gothenburg (I did my thesis there last year). The students are from all over the world. If you want to get in contact with the future generation of change agents…

  4. I share your “Resource Utilization Trap” and “Product Owner in a Nutshell” with videos with teammates and project sponsors all the time. Whenever I need an Agile concept illustration, I see what you have.

    I look forward to the inspiration and guidance you and your team come up with. To quote an American poster from 75 years ago, “We Can Do It!”

    God bless you, Henrik!

  5. Don’t know if concentrating on reducing CO2 emissions while solving electricity problems is enough. I don’t want to have nuclear power plants all over the world just because they don’t emit CO2. On their nowadays technical base they produce waste which will be poisenous for thousands of years and they are not safe enough to prevent catastrophies. Just think of the Japan’s incident 6 years ago. There are so many old nuclear power plants in europe which actually have incidents

    that’s why I would suggest getting rid of nuclear power as well if we can’t get it save enough and free of waste.
    from that point of view electricitymap.org is no help because countries with lots of nuclear power plants are colored green there. and one has to question that.

    that’s for electricity.

    I think, a very big CO2 emittere are the transportation sector and even the agriculture industry with the excessive meat production. Want to go for that too?

    1. My focus is CO2 emission. Main cause of that is burning fossil fuels (70% of all emissions), second biggest cause is agriculture (mainly beef industry).

      As for nuclear power, that buys us time. Step 1: Eliminate coal/oil as fossil fuel as quickly as possible, which is only possible today thx to nuclear. Step 2: Gradually phase out nuclear as we ramp up solar and wind. Good news is that even today there is no need to build more coal/oil or nuclear plants, we can phase out existing coal/oil plants and keep the existing nuclear plants for a few decades until we are 100% renewable.

      But yes, I’m a an optimist. Have to be, because the alternative is too depressing…

  6. Henrik, your explainers are damned beautiful. But I have some caveats here:

    A minor one: methane from permafrost melt only lasts in the atmosphere for 12 years, so won’t be much of a climate force over time.

    A major one: solar and wind aren’t reliable replacements because we can’t store the energy for use when it’s dark and cloudy or calm, respectively. Storage technologies are an enormous bugbear and while I’m fond of some of the solution ideas, especially flywheel banks and EnergyNest’s thermal storage, these things are far from ready to deploy en masse. Battery storage isn’t catching up fast at anywhere near the rate we need. I suggest you look harder at this.

    And a huge solution element you miss is the decentralisation of population through 3D printing and augmented reality. We can already 3D print houses, clothes, tools and food. With augmented reality, we will no longer need to centralise housing to run our organizations or fuel mass transport from hub to hub. And with 3D printed food – from vats of stem cells – we will no longer need to use most of our land for agriculture. So we’ll rapidly spread out into villages across the former farmlands and present day cities will become museums over the next two generations.

    Provided climate change disruptions don’t wreck us all first.

  7. Hi, Henrik. Because your readers are clearly interested in all things agile, I thought you might be willing to share with them the news about The 2017 Agile Leadership Summit in Washington, DC on September 22, 2017. This event is for senior leadership, and features an all-lightning-talk format in which seven senior agile leaders will share agile strategies, lessons and learnings with their peers. We certainly welcome you — and your readers — to the event. Will you help us get the word out? http://www.agileCxO.org.

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