Translating Scrum Terminology: Beyond the Marketing
I am constantly being asked to translate the terminology used in Scrum to the often more sensible terminology of other agile approaches such as Extreme Programming (XP) and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD). The primary goal of this brief article is to provide such a translation, hope you find it useful. One of the philosophies of Scrum is to use different terminology to help people understand that what Scrum describes is different than what people are currently doing. The problem is that much of the Scrum terminology, taken from rugby, is really questionable at best when you step back and think about it. The table below lists the existing Scrum term and my thoughts about it
|This isn’t such a bad name, although in practice people generally use the term iteration burndown chart for tracking the work left for the current iteration and release burndown chart for the work left for the current release of the system.
|Chickens and Pigs
|Mike Vizdos’ really cool cartoons aside, labeling people chickens and pigs is arguably disrespectful. Why agile team members would want to be considered pigs to begin with is questionable, and calling non-team members chickens? Yikes. Luckily, the Scrum community for the most part has moved on from this, but the terms still seem to linger on like the bad smells that they are.
|Daily Stand-Up is a much more accurate term, or better yet “coordination meeting”. The term “daily scrum” only sounds like a good idea to anyone who has never actually played rugby. Scrums in rugby are rough things, for those on the inside, where people’s ears can get bitten, teeth are knocked out by elbows, and other bad things happen.
|Work item list, or simply backlog, are better terms, although for simple situations I can see how “product backlog” makes sense. The Scrum concept of having a prioritized stack of requirements, the product backlog, is pretty good at level 1. However, you quickly discover that you need to manage more than just functional requirements, you should also handle defects (which are arguably requirements). The lean concept of treating these things as a collection of options that you pull from when you have capacity to do so, instead of as a prioritized stack that you have to maintain, is arguably more even more advanced.
|This term actually makes sense. Score one for the Scrum community. On-Site Customer and Stakeholder Representative are also common alternatives.
|Team Lead or Team Coach are much better terms. I suppose that “Scrum Master” makes sense to people into the leather scene, but for everyone else it’s just goofy.
|Iteration is an agnostic term and time-box is also a good option. Sprints follow each other constantly, and nobody sprints through a race.