Marcel Britsch

Marcel Britsch

Digital consultant, product manager and business analyst

London, United Kingdom

Marcel Britsch is an independent Digital Consultant, Product Owner and Agile Transformation specialist. Born in Germany, he has been living and working in London for over 20 years. He has worked with creatively and technically focused agencies and clients across retail, conservation, automotive, finance, healthcare and energy.
He helps organisations build solid products and services in a sustainable way by facilitation, pairing, coaching or hands-on product management.

He believes that project success is strongly linked to happy teams, value-focused decision- making and fast feedback cycles. He is passionate about finding the best tools and techniques to optimise team culture, ways of working and solution design. He considers projects that follow classic waterfall / big-design-up-front practices to be too likely doomed to go anywhere near them, but loves to help organisations build products and transform in incremental evolutionary fashion.

Outside of work he is interested in SciFi and comic books, Theravada Buddhist meditation and number theory.

He is a regular speaker at conferences, blogs at www.thedigitalbusinessanalyst.com, co-hosts the https://www.theburnup.com podcast about 'all things agile', and can be found at https://www.beautifulabstraction.com.

Area of Expertise

  • Information & Communications Technology


  • Digital Inclusion
  • agile
  • Lean
  • Ethics in Design
  • Ethics in Software
  • CI/CD
  • continuous delivery
  • Product Management
  • Design Thinking
  • Agile Leadership
  • DevOps
  • DevOps Skills
  • Product Discovery
  • Inception
  • Team Building
  • Cultural Transformation
  • Lean IT
  • Lean / Agile Transformation
  • Lean Startup
  • Agile Lean
  • Lean Enterprise
  • User Interface
  • User Studies
  • User Experience Design
  • Product Design
  • Product Manager
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Large Transformation
  • Technology Transformation
  • Agile Transformation
  • DevOps Transformation
  • Software Design
  • Software Development
  • Security & Compliance
  • Compliance
  • Legal & Compliance
  • Continuous compliance (DevSecOps perspective)
  • Healthcare Compliance
  • Ethics
  • Business Ethics
  • Ethics in AI
  • Digital Ethics
  • cybersecurity ethics

Predicting unintended consequences...before we break the world

The jury is no longer out: technology is equally a force for good as it is for evil. All our good practises can result in unintended consequences, from pushing down wages for gig economy workers, to fostering an addiction to our phones.

But…what can we do? Big decisions are usually made above our pay grade, and some of these consequences are completely unexpected.

In this practical talk we’ll share some powerful frameworks and models used to identify and navigate the unintended consequences of our decisions. Whether you’re a manager, work in a delivery team, or use digital products in your daily life, this is for you.

After all - being an informed delivery practitioner is as important as being an informed consumer.

Decoding Ethical Dilemmas - A Framework for Mindful Decision Making at Work

Embark on a riveting exploration of ethical decision-making in the tech realm. Delve into the impactful choices we face—deciding who to work for, what projects to engage in, and how to design them. Join me in uncovering the profound repercussions these decisions have on our world. From arms development to city administration systems, medical software or trading software every design decision and delivery action shapes the future. Discover a scientifically grounded framework that transcends the complexities of ethical decision-making and provides guidance for individuals, teams and organisations on how to make mindful, ethically sound choices.

I will start this talk by illustrating the conundrum of making ethical decisions of who to work for, what to work on and what to design and implement, with a range of examples from my own career.
I will then make the proposal that there is an objective, scientific even, framework to guide these decisions. I will argue that we should optimise for overall ‘wellbeing of conscious creatures’, and that ethically sound decisions are those that move us towards that goal.
I will demonstrate why ethical decision making is in everyone’s interest, and show that ultimately, it is all about ‘what world we want to live in’. I will demonstrate that (and why) mindful, considered, ethical decisions ultimately lead to objectively ‘better’ outcomes, and that there is a scientific way to approach this.
I will illustrate my arguments with industry case studies spanning Amazon, bike sharing, FTX, Defense Distributed, and Theranos, but also my own experiences in FinTech, Drypto, defence, MedTech, Edtech and Retail.
Each example will illustrate an ethical conundrum with either the value proposition itself or with its solution design and implementation. We will also see that best practices such as innovation, scaling or automation (just to name some) are often a double-edge sword.
I will then introduce an ethics framework that individuals and teams can use to guide their decision making and conclude the talk with practical recommendations on how to move towards applying such a framework across teams I will then introduce an ethics framework that individuals and teams can use to guide their decision making and conclude the talk with practical recommendations on how to move towards applying such a framework across teams and organisations.

Participants in my talk will
- Gain awareness of product related ethical conundrums
- Gain a robust north star' for ethical decision-making in their careers
- Walk away with a practical ethics framework for fostering mindfulness and ethical decision-making in their professional journeys

Compliance by design | Continuous Compliance

Compliance by design | Continuous Compliance

Just hearing the word ‘compliance’ creates fear and loathing with many project teams. And true, the traditional way of assuring compliance, with big up front requirements gathering, waterfall stage gates, and verification / certification at the end is a bad one: neither does it satisfy the demands of fast paced, value focused product or service delivery, nor does it satisfy the demands of an increasingly strict and complex regulatory landscape.

And we can only expect the compliance landscape to become more complex: recent failures in banking, but also the emergency of technologies such as blockchain, machine learning, AI and autonomous systems are already having their impact on the compliance landscape.

So it is time for a new approach: ‘compliance by design’ or ‘continuous compliance’ takes the stance that involving compliance early and continuously through the full product lifecycle leads to better outcomes for our products but also compliance itself.

Based on experiences in FinTech, MedTech and EdTech this talk presents the reasons why the current approach to compliance must change, what a sustainable, valuable compliance approach must look like, and how we can transition from one to the other.

It then describes a framework for continuous compliance across the entire product lifecycle from analysis to design, development to release, and operation.

It demonstrates how the outcomes are far more pleasant working with (and for) compliance, better products that have higher degrees of compliance and improved compliance operations be this as part of BAU monitoring, ad hoc auditing, periodic certifications or incident management.

Bringing Product Thinking into DevOps

With the advent of the DevOps movement we have seen an immense improvement in software delivery by closely linking software engineering with deployment and infrastructure. We have also seen an increase in complexity of options: what is needed for one organisation is not what another organisation requires or can even stomach.

Experience from numerous DevOps transformation projects shows that we need to consider aspects of DevOps as strategic organisational assets, and in turn, must treat them as we would a product. By adding Product Thinking to DevOps we add the final missing piece to ensure that we meet not only technical needs but wider business expectations.

Drawing on a range of relevant case studies across various industries I will demonstrate that adding a product mindset to DevOps does lead to better outcomes and how this can be achieved in practice.

How the world ends

Join me in this dark but also inspirational exploration of existential risks and what they mean for us working in technology.
Come explore how, for the first time, humanity — armed with unprecedented capabilities to both create and avert existential risks — finds itself at a unique turning point that may decide on the future - or not - of humanity and in fact all life on earth.
Understand the implications of the Fermi Paradox - or ‘why no one is out there’ - and the relevance of the ‘Great Filter’. We'll explore the specific threats posed by run-away greenhouse effect, nuclear destruction, alien invasion or super-intelligent AI. And the potential extinction of not only humanity, but all life.
As contributors to the tech landscape, we all play a crucial role, and collectively must become the architects of a future marked by resilience and ethical foresight, and guide humanity towards a secure tomorrow, transcending the challenges of the Great Filter.

Agile beyond IT

Do you believe that agility can work in civil engineering, aerospace or [any industry here]? Do you think that as IT expert you should care? 
If your answer is no, you hesitate or cringe, then this talk is for you. I will demonstrate that agility is possible and imperative in all industries. And, that we, as IT professionals, not only can, but also have a responsibility to educate the organisations’ we work with on agility outside of our IT closet.
To help with this I will provide examples of agile adoption across a wide range of industries and will propose a framework on how to move non IT organisations towards agility.

In recent years, we have seen an interest in other industries to adopt agility (e.g. Agile HR). However, many industries still think that Agile is not for them, or, if it is, then only at basic process level, which frequently translates to nothing more than adoption of Scrum as a method to run team ceremonies.

Reading one consultancy’s approach to Agile in construction they conclude that construction companies must adopt agile, specifically to ensure that the customer is involved in design decisions. No s***. (I cannot express how scary I find that this needs pointing out, and also how immature a stance this is).

So clearly there is a missed opportunity. But where to start?

I will make the point that looking at the IT industry is great, and that we have a lot to share and give: Over its short lifespan the IT industry has made a number of amazing innovations in terms of how people work and how software is delivered. However, one size does not fit all, and other industries cannot just lift and shift from software engineering.

IT took a lot from lean manufacturing, but, we also added to it; we made it work for ‘our’ value chain. So the challenge that other industries will face, if they want to fully benefit from agility, is that they need to change culture and process (which seems obvious) but also tooling (which seems less obvious to many): only the three together will unlock the ability to become truly agile.

I will make the point that, to really introduce agility, a number of industries need to start heavily innovating. And that, if they don’t, they will not be able to master the challenges that the 21st century will throw at them...

To support my claim I will share examples of agile adoption and innovation from construction, civil engineering, automotive, aerospace, medical, biotech, HR and legal, proving that highest degrees of agility can work in other industries, too.

This talk is set out to inspire and empower experts within and outside of the IT industry to challenge the still pervasive opinion that the high degrees of agility we see in IT are not possible in many other industries, and provide a framework for how to transform towards true agility in the non IT sector.

Decoding the Algorithm: Why Explainability and Transparency Matter when Building AI-Driven Systems

Imagine a law enforcement officer deciding whether to deploy a SWAT team or an oncologist relying on an algorithm to shape a cancer treatment plan. The stakes are high, and the need for informed decisions, corrections, and human intervention is paramount.
In a world increasingly shaped by AI, this talk delves into the pivotal significance of transparency, explainability, and human involvement in algorithmic decision-making.

Drawing from a diverse set of case studies, both from my own experiences and the industry, I'll illustrate why these aspects matter and explore practical solutions to ensuring that the design of AI-driven delivers all the benefits we expect but remains conscientious and minimises the risk of detrimental consequences.

I start my talk with a range of examples in law enforcement, FinTec, EdTech and healthcare (some from my own experience, others based on industry case studies) to demonstrate the problems that can arise when we apply algorithms (AI or not) without consideration of their impact and context, when we just apply black box algorithms and ignore the need for transparency, explainability and human involvement.
I'll then argue for the ethical and legal imperative of incorporating transparency, explainability, and human intervention in AI driven systems. Highlighting evolving legal requirements, I'll underscore that these considerations are not just ethical obligations but increasingly becoming legal mandates across jurisdictions. We'll explore key compliance requirements that creators and designers of algorithmically powered systems need to navigate.

Beyond the hype around AI, I'll stress that these considerations extend even to seemingly mundane algorithms like a 'boring' regression.
Concluding the talk, I'll provide actionable recommendations on integrating transparency, explainability, and human intervention into the core of these systems and the system development lifecycle. I'll touch on best practices, challenges, and strategies to overcome hurdles on the path to responsible AI implementation.

Participants of my talk will come away with
An understanding of why transparency, explainability, and human involvement are critical in AI applications
Strategies for embedding these values into team and organisational culture
Practical strategies for designing systems that not only comply with legal standards but contribute to a more responsible, humane and ethical future.

Navigating the Ethical Abyss: AI Realities and Responsibilities

As AI becomes increasingly ingrained in our systems, its impact on individuals and society is undeniable.
However, the unchecked design and deployment of AI can lead to serious ethical and societal issues. This includes concerns such as underpaying workers, data appropriation without compensation, and the threat to content creators through mimicry of creative styles. Also, algorithmic bias in decision-making and automated processes without human intervention raise questions of fairness and societal inequality.
In this session I will outline crucial ethical considerations teams need to be aware of when designing AI driven systems, and will reference industry best practices that address these issues. I will make this tangible by sharing details about an AI innovation initiative from my own experience, and how my team implemented an AI ethics framework.
The talk will kick off with an exploration of the current AI landscape, highlighting the pervasive ethical dilemmas faced by IT professionals.
I'll navigate through real-world examples, emphasising the repercussions of inconsiderate design and implementation with focus on aspects such as social justice, inclusion and diversity, equality and democracy.
We'll then transition into an in-depth analysis of various ethical considerations in AI, addressing issues such as data appropriation, underpaid workers, content creation threats, and algorithmic bias, in light of the systems design lifecycle of an AI driven system.
To ground these concepts in reality, I'll share insights from an ongoing AI innovation project. By dissecting the implementation of our AI ethics framework, attendees will gain practical knowledge on incorporating ethical considerations into their own projects. The talk will conclude with a discussion of industry best practice frameworks, providing a roadmap for attendees to navigate the ethical challenges in their AI endeavours.
Participants in my talk will leave with
A heightened awareness of the ethical complexities surrounding AI.
Practical insights and real-world examples for integrating ethics into AI projects
Exposure to a framework that applies ethical actions to the various stages of the AI system development lifecycle
Actionable strategies to recognize and address bias, along with industry best practices for responsible AI innovation.

How to Apply Product Best Practices Mindfully

How to Apply Product Best Practices Mindfully
While leveraging product management best practices such as personalisation, algorithmic decision making, big data analysis, or AI can lead to successful products, recent scandals like Cambridge Analytica, FTX, Amazon, and Theranos highlight the dark side of these approaches.
In this talk, we'll scrutinise a range of product best practices and delve into the pitfalls of overzealous application of product management best practices and explore sustainable, ethical solutions.
In the world of product management, embracing innovation, automation, and the power of (big) data, algorithms, AI, scaling, and personalization is considered ‘best practice’. However, real success goes beyond immediate gains; it involves responsibility for long-term impacts on individuals, society, organisations and the environment.
Recent scandals and failures such as Amazon applying dark UX patterns, Cambridge Analytica, FTX or Theranos have shown that these best practices can easily have a nasty impact.
This talk commences with a range of examples to illustrate how product management best practices can be applied overly-zealously, and how this has led to not only companies going bust, but also major value destruction or even people ending up in prison or dead.
I will then analyse a number of well known product best practices in detail, demonstrate why they are useful, but also - using examples - illustrate what - unintended or not - negative consequences can easily arise, and most importantly how these can be avoided. So that ultimately we can benefit from these practices and the alue they can deliver, without being problematic.
Participants in my talk will
Grasp the potential pitfalls of product management best practices
Recognise why an ‘ethical’ / mindful approach matters
Have seen examples of bad and ‘ethically’ challenged application
Have seen an an overview of common best practices, their pitfalls, and strategies for responsible design and implementation

Ethical Startup and Product Management: A Practical Guides for Product Teams

As we design and deliver products or services we make choices that will impact individuals or society at large, in positive but easily also in negative ways.
Some choices seem obvious: like not enabling arms development. Some less clear: like working on that algorithm assessing the likelihood of an offender to reoffend. Some easy: working on big data driven integrative healthcare, or, say working for a startup that offers rental bike services. But in reality none of these choices are straightforward and without tension.
From seemingly straightforward choices to intricate conundrums, this talk discovers why our decisions matter and proposes a framework for making ethically sound choices in our daily work. This talk aims to inspire IT professionals to be more mindful and deliberate in their actions, fostering a culture of better, more ethical decisions and choices.
First I will share a series of moral conundrums drawn from real-world experiences in diverse sectors such as FinTech, Crypto, Defence, MedTech, EdTech, and Retail. Through examples ranging from Amazon to rental bikes, FTX to Defense Distributed, I'll delve into the tensions and problems inherent in product and service design and implementation, spanning both high-level existential (business- or value-proposition-level) dilemmas as well as low-level (feature or UX/CX-level) challenges.
As we delve deeper, I'll scrutinise widely accepted product best practices such as automation, personalization, big data, application of AI, and behaviour-shifting—unveiling both their benefits and potential pitfalls. Through a series of practical examples, I'll demonstrate how these practices, while powerful, can lead to unintended negative consequences and propose strategies to harness their strengths without compromising ethics
The talk will conclude with the presentation of a pragmatic framework designed to guide decision-making. Drawing from successful experiences with teams and organisations, I'll showcase how ethics can be seamlessly integrated into the design and delivery processes. This isn't just a theoretical exploration; it's a blueprint for IT professionals to adopt a more considered, mindful, and ethical approach to product management.
Participants in my talk will
Gain an awareness of ethical product design and delivery considerations
Explore concrete examples illustrating both exemplary and flawed product design
Understand the potential pitfalls of widely accepted product management best practices and learn how to navigate them successfully
Acquire a tangible framework that enables teams to work towards a more considered, mindful and ethical approach to product management

Beyond ‘The Terminator’ - Navigating the Immediate Threats of Everyday Algorithms

Beyond sensationalist AI doomsday scenarios, this talk refocuses on a more immediate concern: the risks posed everyday algorithms that shape our world. It highlights the very immediate and real threat posed by current algorithms in social media, policymaking, law enforcement, and fraud detection, capable of creating subtle but nonetheless nasty dystopias. This talk suggests that if we don’t design algorithms well today, Terminator scenarios are the least of our worries tomorrow.
Delving into the intricate landscape of algorithmic influence and AI impact , this session unravels the nuanced challenges product teams face. By navigating through practical strategies like transparency, explainability, and human intervention, this talk explores how to wield algorithms to our advantage without inadvertently steering society toward discrimination, exploitation, and oppression.
This is not just a theoretical exercise; it's a call to action for all levels of IT professionals to proactively shape the algorithms that shape our world.
This talk takes participants on a journey from existential risks, including AI doomsday scenarios, to the more imminent dangers posed by the algorithms shaping our daily lives.
I’ll highlight:
The imperative to thoughtfully design and deploy all decision-making algorithms - AI or not.
The existing principles—transparency, explainability, human intervention—that must guide the design of algorithmic systems.
How the talk unfolds:
The talk unfolds with an entertaining exploration of existential risks, touching on everything from aliens, Gray Goo, super intelligent AI to the Great Filter.
I'll then pivot to why these scenarios, while fascinating, divert our attention from the far more immediate risks embedded in the algorithm we currently use. From policy-making to fraud detection, these algorithms, often unnoticed, are already shaping our society, and, if badly done, can have very ‘hasty’ consequences.
I will briefly outline why the full spectrum from super-intelligent, to general or weak AI to our most basic algorithms need our considerations.
Drawing from industry examples, I'll showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly in algorithm implementation.
I will conclude with actionable recommendations: I'll advocate for best practices, including data access rights, transparency, and the importance of options for human intervention in AI driven systems.
These solutions empower us to address challenges and risks today while preparing for the future emergence of stronger AI.
Participants in my talk will
Recognize the critical importance of assessing risks in algorithmically driven systems beyond the realm of (strong) 'AI.
Understand how to integrate impact and risk considerations into the design process
Gain insights into practical solutions to designing systems to proactively mitigate unintended or detrimental consequences.

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Marcel Britsch

Digital consultant, product manager and business analyst

London, United Kingdom

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