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

Chris Lennon
3 min readAug 3, 2021


A recent linked in post based on my last blog generated some great commentary and debate. One of the standout comments to me was a brief post by Dave Snowden (of Cynefin fame) that said simply:

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

The List


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?

In conclusion

Gosh there are a lot of these kind of words! If you know of other ones please suggest them in the comments.



Chris Lennon

Agile coach. Ways of Working researcher. I live in beautiful New Zealand and work for Spark. I am also the founder of a start up — Views are my own.