What’s in a Name: The Most Dangerous Scrum Terms Explained

Let’s face it, scrum can be dangerous. It’s a powerful tool, and if used incorrectly–the consequences can be detrimental.  Maybe you’ve found your team dealing with a rogue Stakeholder, ugly code, or technical debt. While all of these things can be harmful, hopefully your well-formed team can knock out anything that swings your way.  So let’s walk on the wild side and take a look at the most “dangerous” scrum terms we can handle.

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Abnormal Termination

Abnormal Termination  –  A cancellation of the Sprint by the ScrumMaster at the behest of the Team. This is a self-organization ‘thing’ and is often threatened but seldom invoked – it is usually used by the Team as a way of saying ‘you didn’t play nice, so we are forcing a do-over.’


BurnDown –  A BurnDown graph is any graph that shows the amount of remaining Backlog (Items or Tasks) as a function of Time. Many people and tools use BurnDowns, but they have been largely deprecated from Scrum as they are inherently predictive, and not agile.




Spike  –  An XP (eXtreme Programming) term that describes Stories that figure out answers to tough technical or design problems. Spikes address only the problem under consideration and ignore all other concerns. Most Spikes get thrown away, which differentiates them from Architecturally Significant Stories.

Team Swarm

Team Swarm  –  A method of working where a Team works on just a few Stories at a time. Each Story is finished as quickly as possible by having many people work on it together, rather than having a series of handoffs. The ultimate in Swarming is Single Item Flow, where the Team works on only one Story at a time, and finishes it completely before moving on to the next one.



Walking Skeleton

Walking Skeleton  –  A subset of the System that demonstrates the basic architectural decisions; it is the result of many Architecturally Significant Stories.

As Always, Stay Agile.