Agile Glossary (A-F)


Activity – a task or function that when performed produces a product or service.

Agile – the name coined for the wider set of ideas that Scrum falls within; the Agile values and principles are captured in the Agile Manifesto.

Agile Project Management – a project management approach also known as Agile Scrum and originally developed for the software industry. Agile Project Management is an approach that delivers value early and often through rapid time-boxed Iterations known as Sprints. Unlike a waterfall approach to project management, the deliverables of every Agile Project Sprint are proven to contribute directly to customer value creation, e.g., a fully tested unit of code, or a new form or procedure that is in place and being used. Agile is a Lean approach to project management.

Andon Board – a term for a visual control device that allows anyone to see and manage the status of the Value Stream.

Appreciative Inquiry – a radically holistic way to rebuild organisational rapport and efficiency by building on success and positive narratives from the past, rather than remain mired in self-assessments based on previous failures or mistakes. The Appreciative Inquiry approach restructures organisational self-esteem and rapport and focuses on the constructive actions needed to recreate the future in a positive, nurturing ambiance.


Backlog – Activities held in inventory that have yet to be initiated as Work-in-process. See Product, Project, or Sprint Backlog.

Item – see Backlog, Product Item.

Batch – an assembly of various items intended for future processing at the appropriate time.

Bottleneck – any point in the Value Stream where the capacity to produce work is less than the work ready to be performed.

Burndown – see Burndown Chart, Sprint Burndown, Product Burndown.

Burndown Chart – a report, in table form, generally updated on a daily basis, that reveals hours a Team spent during an Agile Sprint. In the chart, the Y-axis indicates the number of task hours remaining and the X-axis indicates the time duration of the Sprint.

Business Friction – barriers to Workplace productivity that build when the Value Streams of the organisation are not aligned with the four dimensions of office performance: people, process, technology, and time.

Business Value Add – anything needed by business to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the CVA work while retaining legality and viability as a business entity.


Capability – ability, through both resources and expert knowledge, necessary to produce products or services. Capabilities can be exemplified by communication skills, relevant software knowledge, project management skills, proficiency in quality assurance analysis, Team-building, etc.

Chicken – (arch.) A term for anyone not on the Team. The term offended some people so is now rarely used, cf. Pig.

Constraint – anything that limits a Value Stream from achieving higher performance; i.e., throughput, cycle time, quality.

Continuous Flow – the ideal Value Stream that experiences no wait states. In a state of continuous flow the work time and the Service Time of a Value Stream are identical.

Continuous Performance Improvement – an approach that engages employees in an unrelenting focus on improving the effectiveness and efficiencies of the Value Streams of an organisation.

Cost of Non-quality – the financial impact due to the production of Waste by the organisation. Here Waste refers to all seven Wastes and their financial impact, not just the waste of defects.

Current State Value Stream – a snapshot view of a Value Stream as it exists at the time of observation.

Customer – the internal or external recipient of the value produced by an upstream role of a Value Stream.

Customer Value – something of worth in usefulness or importance to a customer. Sometimes used interchangeably with Stakeholder value.

Cycle Time – the time required to complete a cycle of an operation.


Daily Scrum – a fifteen-minute daily Team meeting to share progress, report impediments and make commitments.

Done – also referred to as “Done” or “Done Done”, this term is used to describe a product increment that is considered releasable; it means that all design, coding, testing and documentation have been completed and the increment is fully integrated into the system.


Effectiveness – maximising the overall performance of a Value Stream. Sometimes there is a tradeoff where increasing effectiveness causes reduced efficiency of certain individual Activities.

Efficiency – maximising the performance of a single Activity of a Value Stream. Sometimes there is a tradeoff where increasing efficiency causes reduced effectiveness of the overall performance of the Value Stream.

Emergence – the principle that the best designs, and the best ways of working come about over time through doing the work, rather than being defined in advance, cf.

Empiricism – the principle of “inspect and adapt” which allows Teams or individuals to try something out and learn from the experience by conscious reflection and change, cf. Emergence, Self Organisation.

Epic – a large user Story that is eventually broken down into smaller stories. Too big to be completed in a single agile Sprint, Epics are useful as placeholders for lower priority requirements in the Backlog.

Error Proofing – building into the Value Stream the ability to prevent errors from occurring and/or the ability to immediately recognise errors when they occur (Baka Yoke).

Estimation – the process of agreeing on a size measurement for the Stories in a Product Backlog. Done by the Team, usually using Planning Poker.F

Feedback – Activity outputs that generate positive or negative reinforcements for related Activities. For instance, if a movie sells well, sales will generate others to visit that movie, a positive result. On the other hand, designing certain engines could increase air pollution, a negative result. Feedback is instructive and, when considered properly, can lead to better and more efficient Value Stream design.

Fibonacci Sequence – a mathematical sequence where the next number is result of adding previous two, creating ever-enlarging interval as numbers increase. Fibonacci is often used for Story Points, owing to the loss of accuracy in estimates when dealing with Epics.

Flow – the movement of items of value from one role to the next in a Value Stream.

Flow Continuous – delivery of value to customers (vs. big- batch, big-release, big-bang).

Four Ds (Agile) – the four Activities that comprise an Agile Story.
• Discover – acquisition of research information; identifying Sprint deliverables.
• Develop – developing plans for building and testing deliverables.
• Deliver – training Team members for executing and releasing deliverables.
• Debrief – overseeing results, adjusting Sprint deliverables and closing out stories.

Four Ds (AI) – the four stages of a cycle of continuous improvement associated with the “appreciative inquiry” approach.
Discover – perform a system-wide inquiry with a positive bias.
• Dream – create an outcomes based future vision from the discovered potential for change.
• Design – establishing the environment which the people of the organisation believe they can achieve the dream.
• Destiny – building momentum around the organisational learning, change, and adoption necessary to execute the design.

Future State Value Stream – a snapshot view of a Value Stream as it might appear to an observer at some point in the future.

2 Responses to Agile Glossary (A-F)

  1. Honeysuckle says:

    A wonderful job. Super helpful inofartmion.

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