Frameworks, systems, patterns, plays, methods, processes. Oh my!
A list of similar but different words we come across in the agile / ways of working / management industry
Although Scrum calls itself a framework, the reality is I could call myself a blueberry but it wouldn’t make me a blueberry. The claims someone or something makes about themselves are important, but not authoritative.
So this blog is a very quick listing of some words we use somewhat inter-changeably in what I guess you could call the “agile industry” with my first-brush pass at some of the subtleties they carry
Listing of all the words
All the works in the below list together. So we can appreciate that … gosh there are a lot of these.
Framework, system, process, method, model, procedure, protocol, practice, play, artifact, event, principle, value, pattern
Let’s start with this one. A framework has connotations of self-sufficiency to it. As in a framework is pretty much all you need to achieve your desired ways of working outcomes. You work “within” a framework. The classic example of a framework would be the SAFe framework
Another word with a claim on the top level. System has the connotation of a specific implementation. So for example a company or organization would consist of a system (of inter-connected systems). It would be unusual to refer to Scrum or The Kanban Method, or SAFe as a ‘system’ — but it would make sense in some ways (system in this context would have a similar meaning to ‘framework’)
My definition of a process is “the current best known way to achieve an outcome given a certain beginning state’. It has the connotations of being reasonably low level. E.g. a team would own a number of processes, and a framework would similarly contain many processes
This is a trickier one. The oxford online defines this one as:
a particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one
… so I am going to say that a method is most similar to a process
A model to me represents a view of the world. But sometimes ‘model’ is used inter-changeably with ‘framework’. So a model could be a simpler framework As in “the spotify model”
Like a method or process, but it has a more specific implication. So it would be a process with some documentation around it for example. Also has the connotations of being quite low level. So you could possibly say that a process consists of many procedures
This one sounds like it would be similar to process but it is quite different, a protocol describes a set of behaviors and / or specific steps to employ given a particular scenario
As in “Framework such-and-such consists of a set of practices. In our context a practice is something a team ‘does’. For example holding a regular product discovery meeting could be referred to as a practice. As could having a prioritized backlog of use cases.
See for example the Atlassian play book. Same meaning as a practice.
A Scrum term. What Scrum calls an artifact I would see as simply a practice
Event | Ceremony | Ritual
A meeting, especially a team meeting, especially a recurring team meeting. Could be considered a practice
Has connotations of a truth (something we believe in), worded in a somewhat general way. So see the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto
Similar to ‘principle’ but has implications of being higher-level and more aspirational
This one is quite open, and perhaps it is somewhere between a principle and a process?
Gosh there are a lot of these kind of words! If you know of other ones please suggest them in the comments.