Clean Agile Language

Clean Agile Language

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With an homage to clean language, I was inspired in a Moose Herd session the other day as we explored the damage that agile terminology can do when we’re coaching.

So, the thought that jumped in my mind was the notion of an Agile Coach coaching using Clean Agile Language.

I know what you’re thinking…what is that?

Well, we coach without using any agile terminology. Zero, zilch, nada, none! Inclusive of—

No Scrum terminology

For example—no talk of roles/accountabilities, no events, or sprints.

No XP terminology

For example, no talk about user stories, acceptance criteria, or CI/CD.

No Kanban terminology

For example—no talk of WIP, flow, or SLA’s.

No SAFe terminology

For example—no talk of value streams or trains, SAFe Scrum Masters or other roles, and no talk LACE.

No Agile book or guidance references

For example, stop referencing Agile 2, LeSS, Scrum Guide, Agile Manifesto, or Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.

You can’t say anything with “agile” or “Agile” in it. And don’t get me started about Agile Coaching terminology—powerful questions, reveal the system, stances, competencies, and wheels, oh my!

Bob, are there any exceptions?

I think I might make an exception for lean language or business agility language, but be super careful with it. And begrudgingly, I must allow an exception for any trainer teaching one of the above methods, frameworks, or approaches.

First, let me acknowledge that I’m not good at this now. If judged harshly, one might say I suck at it. Given that, I understand how challenging making this shift might be, so I’m going to start with some small experiments—

  1. Can I go for a day of interactions applying clean agile language?

  2. Can I deliver one of my existing presentations applying clean agile language?

  3. Can I have a coaching client conversation, just one, by applying clean agile language?

Then reflect on how that felt for me and its impact on whoever I was talking to.

Wish me luck, everyone. I think I’m in for a bumpy ride…

Stay agile my friends,


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