The Agile PMO’s Dictionary

Seek first to understand, then to be understood – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

For some time, I’ve been collecting expressions that often lead to misunderstanding, confusion, or even frustration and conflicts. And these expressions clearly stand in the way of organisational and process improvement.

You always have a choice to either try to understand and find a way, or to spot flaws and come to a dead-end. Even though it’s the message that matters most, sometimes using a different word or expression will help carry your message further without confusion.

This Agile PMO dictionary should help you choose alternative expressions for some commonly misunderstood ones.



showcase reports are meant to give stakeholders confidence, a clear status update: instead show and tell, engage  dashboards share live data generously, share insights, be transparent

Stage Gate

acceptance criteria the purpose of process control checkpoints is to avoid non-valuable work. Work on the definition, make it support, not control.


person, developer, co-worker (unless you actually mean printers, papers and computers).

Secure resources

prioritise product backlogs move the conversation to teams, their product backlogs, and the alignment between them. See Resource.

Cost control

cost awareness chasing hours in estimates and time reports has little value. Instead, review contracts, products, and services often to make sure they support your business. Let new vendors challenge old, pay off technical debt, and decommission obsolete systems.


wished date a deadline is usually the date used in business cases to calculate benefits. Sometimes there’s a threatening cost of delay connected to the date (e.g the GDPR enforcement date), but often it’s only a date that came up at some point. Question dates, find motivating sense of urgency instead.

Release date

release date this is an interesting one and the key to change the meaning of it is continuous delivery. Or at least predictable-and-often-enough-delivery. Then we can switch from releasing when a fixed scope is ready to releasing continuously what’s ready and move focus to improve flow.

Road map

road map not a classic project road map, but a clear visualisation of what initiatives and activities that lead towards a vision or a strategic goal: purpose and guidance.

Project Steering Committee

business owners move conversation from milestones, dates and progress to ownership of expected outcome and customer value, discuss options and remove obstacles

Business Case

effect maps and budget a business case should support or kill an initiative, and guide which investments give the most value. Needs to be challenged. Sometimes crystal clear but often calculated too positive or even calculated backwards. Find ways to test hypothesis early, manage risk.


business enabler (historically a separate department, semi-secret, usually located in the basement that delivered wrong software too late at a too high cost)



Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher


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