Agile Glossary (S-Z)


Sashimi – an Agile concept of delivering value in slices rather than in layers/stages.  An Agile Story is sashimi because it can be proven it is done.  It is not possible to prove that a requirements document is done.

Scrum – an agile methodology involving a lightweight framework conceived to manage complex projects by delivering them incrementally in iterative time-boxed Sprints.

Scrum Master – a servant leader to the Team who eliminates obstacles and ensures the process runs smoothly, making the Team as efficient and effective as possible.

Scrum Meetings – story Time, Planning, Review, Retro-spective, Daily Scrum.

Segregate Complexity – establishing parallel branches in a Value Stream based on the complexity of the work performed. Each branch can then be optimised for the complexity of work assigned.

Self Organisation – point of view maintaining that those closest to work know how to accomplish work in the best way.  So set goals, boundaries and give them space to make requisite tactical decisions and implement their goals, cf. Emergence, Empiricism.

Seven Office Wastes – seven major non-value added office Activities.
•    Defects – Mistake requiring rework.
•    Underutilisation – Office resources not used at capacity.
•    Transportation – Moving resources to another location.
•    Waiting – Defining resource inactivity.
•    Variation – Use of different methodologies for producing same value.
•    Work-in-process – A product or service commenced, but incomplete.
•    Overproduction – Producing anything before it is needed.

Silo – the functional component of an organisation. In terms of key views, a “silo view” is the opposite of a “system-wide view,” owing to the limited communication often arising between different silos.

Six Sigma – a statistical approach for measuring variability.

Span-of-coordination – the scope of individual or Team’s leadership and support responsibilities. Utilised in conjunction with span-of-control (which refers to the authority of the responsible unit) span-of-coordination helps understand how system-wide performance of Value Streams can be maintained.

Spike – a brief, time-boxed piece of research (usually technical) on a single Story that provides just enough information to enable that Story to be estimated.

Sprint – a single time-boxed Iteration of an Agile project.  Sprints may be of any duration (i.e. 2 to 4 weeks) but typically are of a fixed duration for every Iteration of a project.

Sprint Backlog – an inventory of user stories that have been selected for an Agile Sprint.

Sprint Burndown – a daily chart that visibly indicates the amount of work left in Sprint.

Sprint Goal – aka Sprint Theme, the key focus of the work for a single Sprint.

Sprint Planning – a meeting of the Product Owner and the Team in which the Sprint is planned and a commitment is agreed upon.

Sprint Task – one small item of work toward the completion of one Story.

State – static view of a process at any one moment.

Stakeholder – any party that has an interest in the product/service produced by an organisation’s Value Stream.

Stakeholder Value – the worth of the Stakeholder’s interest in the product/service produced by an organisation’s Value Stream. Sometimes used interchangeably with customer value.

Store – a place to store the inventory or Work-in-process of a Value Stream. Stores may include information systems storing information, Queue storing paper, or bins storing materials.

Story – An Item representing a project or product requirement, typically stated in the form:
As a <user or role>,
I want <business functionality>,
So that <business benefit>.

Story Point – a unit of measurement applied to the size of a Story, cf. Fibonacci Sequence.

Story Points – a method for estimating the size of an Agile Story used as an alternative to estimating the Story in hours. Story Points compare one Story to another to determine a relative size and then assign points denoting that size.  The anticipated velocity of a Sprint Team is then used to estimate how many Story Points they can deliver in a Sprint.

Story Time – the regular work session where items on the Backlog are discussed, refined and estimated and the Backlog is trimmed and prioritised. (See Sprint Task).

System-Wide View – looking at the big picture of organisational performance by looking at each complex interaction between Activities intended to produce customer value.


Task – a discrete unit of work.  Agile stories are broken down into a collection of tasks that must be performed to complete the Story in one Sprint.  Tasks are typically sized to represent 4 to 8 hours of labour.

Taskboard – a wall chart depicting a Sprint Team’s work progress by moving cards and sticky notes across the board.

Task List – the tasks needed to complete the set of stories committed to a Sprint.

Team – the development Team, responsible for committing to work and delivering and driving the product forward from a tactical perspective.

Team Member – any member of the Team including database admins, graphic artists, writers, designers, testers, and developers.

Throughput – the velocity of work performed by a Value Stream. Throughput counts the units of customer value produced for a given time period.

Time-Boxed – there are three constraints of any project: cost, scope, and time.  A time-boxed project fixes time and allows cost and scope to vary to meet the time.  An Agile project is delivered in time-boxed Iterations that are fixed in calendar time.

Timeboxing – setting duration for every Activity and having it last exactly that (i.e. neither meetings nor Sprint are ever lengthened – ever).

Theme – A related collection of Agile stories.


User Story – see Story.


Value – something of worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor. Note that value is determined by the recipient of the product/service not the producer.

Value Add – the Activities that transform the resources of an organisation into a product or service someone is willing to pay for.

Value Priorities – the relative ranking of the Stakeholder values generated by a Value Stream.

Value Statement – establishes the way or direction that Stakeholder worth or usefulness is created by an organisation. Value statements say what the organisation is committed to do. In contrast, principle statements say how the organisation is going to do it.

Value Stream – a holistic collection of value added and non-value added Activities that are chained together to create customer value in terms of a product or service.

VOC (Voice of the Customer) – a principle of ensuring that the ‘real’ customers requirements have been solicited and are well understood. The voice of the customer informs and determines the specification and qualities of the product.

Value Stream Mapping – a Value Stream map is a tool that is used to identify all of the process steps within a Value Stream for a given product. The Value Stream map can be used to identify process improvement opportunities       by documenting opportunities to reduce the time taken for value-add Activities, minimise non-value-add process steps and to ruthlessly eliminate waste.

Velocity – the rate at which a Team completes work, usually measured in Story Points.

Vision Statement – a high-level description of a product which includes who it is for, why it is necessary and what differentiates it from similar products.

Visual Controls – the methods to see and manage the real-time flow of a Value Stream.


Wait Time – the duration of time that a resource is not being utilized to create customer value.

Waste – anything that does not add to or support the creation of customer value. Note that Waste is determined by the recipient of the product/service not the producer.  See the Seven Office Wastes.

Waterfall Project Management – an approach to project management named by the discrete gate handoffs from one project stage to the next.  Example waterfall stages are requirement, functional, design, develop, test, implement.

Work-In-Process – products or services still in development. For example batches of reports that are waiting in a Queue for final review are Work-in-process. Also known as WIP.

What – “the What” is a term used to describe the domain of the product owner, as distinct for the Team, cf. How. Can also be described as strategy (i.e. what’s the best order for battles).

Work – the execution of Activities that consume resources and produce a product or service.

Workspace – the place where Stakeholder value is generated.

WIP (Work-in-progress) – any work that has not completed but has already incurred a capital cost of the organisation. Software developed but not yet deployed to production could be deemed as WIP.

XP eXtreme Programming – a set of software development principles that compliment lean-agile management techniques

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