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Updated for the 2011 Scrum Guide

I often have a need to clarify my coaching advice so that teams understand how strongly or specifically I am targeting advice. Below is how I classify my advice, so the consumers of the advice understand how to apply the advice.

My Advice Classifications

  • Best Practice -a practice that is good(but not necessarily the best) in almost all contexts and almost all team situations. This does not mean it is truly the "best" practice in all situations, nor is it necessarily the best practice for your team. The notion of a "Best Practice" in any industry or context is a Unicorn because there is no such thing, so I define it differently here to mean what most people think it means -- a good practice in almost all contexts. If someone can convey my definition in a term that is just as easy to understand as "Best Practice," then I'm all ears. Some have suggested "Great Practice" or "Great Practice in Context"
  • Worst Practice - a practice that is *bad* in almost all contexts and almost all team situations. Usually violates the Agile Manifesto pretty blatantly.
  • Pattern(aka Complementary Practice, Good Practice) - a practice that is good in many contexts and team situations, but may not be good for all situations. As such, a pattern should suggest the context under which it is good.
  • Anti-Pattern(aka Bad Practice, or Bad Practice in Context) - a practice that is *bad* in many contexts and team situations, but may not be bad for all situations. As such, an anti-pattern should suggest the context under which it is bad.
  • Strategy(aka Complementary Practice, Controversial Practice) - a practice that is on its way to being a pattern, but I don't have enough data about applicable contexts yet to consider it a pattern. A strategy is usually an implementation within a larger framework (like Agile, Scrum, User Stories, XP, etc)
  • Bad Smell - strong evidence of bad practice. While a bad smell does not always indicate a problem, it usually does.
  • Tip - a practice that is definitely worth consideration, but might only be good in a few or very specific contexts or team situations.


My hope is that the consumers of my advice will know just how broadly, in my opinion, that the advice applies to problem spaces.

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