In my last post I discussed the awesome workshop I attended called Leading and Learning for Sustainability and why I think it was so beneficial.  It changed me.  This post is about how it changed me.

While at the workshop, I learned from deep reflection that I get things done by example.  I also learned that I like to work with my team and my customers.   In other words, my strategy for leadership is “walking the talk” and sharing it.  (It only took me a year of blogging to figure out why I blog and to whom I am writing.  I feel my best posts are the ones written to my team and customers that are based on my own personal experiences.)

As a result, I have learned to articulate my strategic roadmap toward sustainability and restorative economies in these steps:

  1. Get Rally and our customers effective at Flow, Service and Lean in software and product development
  2. Get myself and my family to a zero carbon footprint lifestyle
  3. Mature the software & hardware development practices as a highly valuable, joyful, respectful and humane profession
  4. Get Rally to a zero carbon footprint
  5. Get our High Technology industry to a 80% carbon reduction in total footprint
  6. Grow High Technology as a leading sustainable industry and critical enabler of green technologies and as an 80% carbon reduction in other industries

Step 1. Back in 2002 when I was working on the initial concepts for Rally, it was Paul Hawkin’s Natural Capitalism book that really shaped my long-term vision for Rally. We basically committed to to bring service and flow, and lean to the high technology industry. I would declare our first 6 years as a success. We have succeeded at introducing the concepts of Flow, Lean and Service into the software and hardware development industries.  In addition, we have made many of the worldwide leaders in this space very successful by realizing the benefits of enterprise agile software development.


New Baby Goats this Spring


Framed Greenhouse on Barn

Step 2. We have been incrementally investing in solar-based solutions to make our personal life more sustainable.  It was PV’s, hybrids, chickens, goats, an e-bike and now this year a new in-ground greenhouse.  A solar hot-water and pre-heater is up next in 2010. (Hopefully, I will even get a cool Tendril home monitor from one of our customers for Chirstmas!.)  I think our home life will be over 80% of the way to zero carbon footprint by 2011 with the final addition of electric vehicles.

As a well paid worker in the executive in the High Technology field, I figure it is my role to help these new green technologies move down the marginal cost curves.  In addition to actually doing something about this problem, I am learning about living in close-loop, sustainable value chains. (I will tell you there is something very grounding and joyful about starting the day by feeding animals who provide for you.  Even on a day like today that was -1 F outside.)

Step 3. Through our 1% volunteering model, folks at Rally have been involved as members, volunteers, speakers, sponsors and board roles at the Scrum Alliance, Agile Alliance, Agile Product Leadership Network and the Project Management Institute.  Our work in growing this industry is just beginning.  In 2009, we hit our 1% goal with 2,800 hours of volunteer time and won the Best Company to work for in Colorado and a top 10 ranking from Outside magazine. In early 2010, we hope to announce a number of clear steps at helping to grow our industry though more educational partnerships in Agile and Lean.

Step 4. In 2006, we started a green team with the help of Boulder’s Be Climate Smart audit team.  In the last three years, we have continued to benchmark our climate impact as well as the community impact of our volunteering hours.  We know that our SaaS application currently puts 8 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year for every 100 users. More importantly, we know where that carbon comes from and we are conscious of the impact and thus the opportunities to curb this for Rally and our industry.

Step 5- 6.  These steps will come as we share our experiences based on our own relentless pursuits of steps 1-4.  Right now I learn a bunch from work shared by Interface carpet’s mission zero,’s RE<C and as a member of NRDC’s E2 program.

It was as a direct result of this workshop that I learned enough to articulate my choices, what to conserve, what to let go of, my leadership approach, who I need to do this with and ways to bridge the creative tension between my personal vision and reality. It was a very powerful workshop.

In closing, I would like to share two of my favorite quotes:

  • Edward Deming: “The prime requirement for achievement of any aim including quality is joy in work.”
  • Humberto Maturana: “Emotion is the bedrock of all that we do and love is the only emotion that expands intelligence.”

Thank you again Peter Senge, Sherry Immediato, Darcy Winslow and all the other great folks who attended the SOL workshop on Leading and Learning for Sustainability in DC.

About the Author: Ryan Martens is a trail runner,  founding board member of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, and Founder and CTO at Rally Software Development. Subscribe today to get free updates by email or RSS.

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