Practices at VSHN


Since its start VSHN tried to be as Agile as possible. Agile refers to the Agile Manifesto, Scrum, DevOps and Sociocracy 3.0 build heavily on Agile and go way beyond Software Development, applying Agile principles to the whole organization practices, structures and collaboration.


A term from Sociocracy 3.0 - A driver is a person’s or a group’s motive for responding to a specific situation, especially used in our Decision Making Process.


A fundamental term from Sociocracy 3.0 - The act of setting objectives (goals), and making and evolving decisions that guide people towards achieving them. Read more here.


A meeting is an event where 2 or more VSHNeers meet to achieve a pre-defined results. This can be problem solving, coordinating Operations work, making Governance or understanding an issue. We try to only have meetings if the intended outcome or at least the Driver is clear to all participants. See Meetings.

Sync Meeting

It historically evolved that we have many Syncs at VSHN, that can be 2 or more VSHNeers. The idea is to quickly get on the same page on one or multiple topics, unblocking the other person to get back at work and make progress. Syncs are often a less efficient way and needed, when other work coordination processes are not working effectively. Syncs should be used sparingly and usually need an agenda (list of topics) to be effective. Evaluate your Syncs periodically and check if there is a better way to coordinate with the needed people.


A more defined format of a Meeting, with facilitation through a defined process to produce a specific result. Simply discussing and taking notes is not a Workshop. We have internal workshops and workshops with and for customers.


a) A fundamental term from Sociocracy 3.0 - Doing the work and organizing day to day activities within the constraints defined through Governance. Read more here.
b) Running, maintaining and handling operational issues with an IT Service (Product) that VSHN uses or provides to Customers.


While Agile but also Sociocracy 3.0 are more principles and patterns that you might value or use, Scrum is more a framework that gives a team the minimal structure to organize their workflow in an Agile way. We don’t do Scrum exactly by the official Scrum Guide, but we use most aspects of it in our tech teams.

Sociocracy 3.0

Sociocracy 3.0 (S3) is social technology for evolving agile and resilient organizations at any size, from small start-ups to large international organizations. See it as a toolbox, it’s not a framework, not an organization model. We use patterns from this toolbox and value the 7 principles, which also align quite directly with our Values and Agile.


Devote time only to what brings you closer toward achieving our objectives, so that we can make the best use of our limited time, energy and resources.

Raise, seek out and resolve objections to decisions and actions, so that you can reduce the potential for undesirable consequences and discover worthwhile ways to improve. Continue with something until there is a such a good reason not to.


Test all assumptions you rely on through experiments and continuous revision, so that you learn fast, make sense of things and navigate complexity as effectively as you can.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly review the outcome of what you are doing, and then make incremental improvements to what you do and how you do it based on what you learn, so that you can adapt to changes when necessary, and maintain or improve effectiveness over time.


Involve people in making and evolving decisions that affect them, so that you increase engagement and accountability, and make use of the distributed intelligence toward achieving and evolving your objectives.


Record all information that is valuable for the organization and make it accessible to everyone in the organization, unless there is a reason for confidentiality, so that everyone has the information they need to understand how to do their work in a way that contributes most effectively to the whole.


Respond when something is needed, do what you agreed to do, and accept your share of responsibility for the course of the organization, so that what needs doing gets done, nothing is overlooked and everyone does what they can to contribute toward the effectiveness and integrity of the organization.

Corporate Management

Corporate management comprises functions that need to function in order for a company to be successful in the long term. Governance is not necessarily a role or a team, these functions can be distributed and shared. Below are just a few that often cause confusion and which we would like to explain.

(Information) Security Risk

(Information) Security Risk involves threats to information assets, such as cyber attacks, data breaches, or insider threats, potentially disrupting business operations and strategic goals. Implementing robust security measures and policies is essential for protecting data integrity, ensuring compliance, and maintaining operational and strategic stability. See our Information Security Management.

Escalation Handling

Escalation Handling, especially in an organization of self-organized teams is about addressing unresolved issues through structured support, without viewing escalations negatively. It’s a reactive approach ensuring team, customer or employee needs are met and promoting continuous improvement within the team’s autonomy and decision-making framework.

Operational Risk

Operational Risk pertains to potential failures in internal processes, systems, or human actions that can disrupt a company’s operations. These include system outages, inefficiencies, or security breaches, particularly impacting service delivery and compliance. Managing these risks is vital for maintaining operational efficiency and achieving strategic objectives.

Offering and Business Development


A Lead is any individual or entity potentially interested in our Offerings, marking the first stage of engagement. It encompasses anyone showing curiosity or interest in our products or services without committing to a purchase yet.

Sales Request

A Sales Request is made by a Lead seeking a proposal, quotation, or more information to aid in their purchasing decision. This marks a critical shift from interest to active pursuit of how our offerings can fulfill their needs. Such a request is usually followed-up by more interaction with the customer and a Sales Offer.

Sales Offer

A Sales Offer is a tailored proposal comprising a list of Products and Services, complete with descriptions, validity dates, pricing, and any applicable discounts. It addresses a specific Sales Request for a potential customer. Also known as a "Quote" or "Quotation."

Sales Order

When a Customer or potential customers buys the Sales Offer we have an order, a purchase. We then have to deliver what the customer ordered.


An Asset is a Resource we produce or define, such as software, infrastructure, tooling, blueprints, concepts, checklists, or workshop formats. Assets are integral components of Products or Services but are not directly marketable. They serve as foundational building blocks within our solutions. Example: The VSHN Puppet Framework, a key element in our Server based Managed MariaDB Product.


In both marketing and Agile terminology, Value is a crucial concept. Value is determined by the receiver, typically the Customer, and the most effective way to measure whether something offers Value is if a) the Customer’s needs are met and b) they (repeatedly) compensate us for it.


A Product is a tangible or digital good designed to fulfill Customer needs, thereby providing Value to them. In our context, products encompass reproducible IT solutions or XaaS (Anything as a Service). They are distinguished by their 'off-the-shelf' availability, meaning we can deliver them readily or have a precise plan for their execution. While there are more specific forms of Value — for example, see 12 Standard Forms of Value — we summarize our offerings as Products, even when they might strictly fall into categories like Subscription, Shared Resource, or Resale.


A Service is an intangible offering, such as Consulting, Engineering, or training, designed to meet customer needs. Unlike Products, services are bespoke, often customized, and typically invoiced based on the actual time and effort involved.


Our Offerings represent the diverse solutions we provide, analogous to a restaurant’s menu. While a specific type of pasta is an Asset, pasta bolognese would be a Product. When listed on a menu, it becomes an Offering – a selection that customers can order. Offerings can be a single Product or Service, or a bundle of multiple Products and Services, targeting different customer segments.


A Customer is a private person or, in the case of VSHN, primarily another company that we provide value to through our Offerings. They purchase from us and, in return, pay us. Customers are known to us, tracked in our ERP/CRM, and we maintain records of our engagements and their financial contributions.

Customer Segment

Also known as "Customer Profile", a term best described in the Value Proposition Canvas. The circle represents the Customer Profile. It’s not one customer, but our understanding of a group of customers with similar needs, pains, and potential gains. We group customers into segments and then figure out which Value Proposition (the rectangle) would be a match.

Value Proposition

Although it could be used interchangeably with Offering, "Value Proposition" is more internal in designing the specific value intended for the Customer Segment to receive. It represents a bundle of Products and Services designed to meet the needs of a customer (grouped into a Customer Segment), alleviate their pains, and provide them with benefits.


A Customer is also an Account in the scope of Customer Account Management. Defined by various criteria, we have Key Accounts and other Accounts.


While a Customer might be referred to as a Partner in marketing and sales contexts, for internal clarity, a Partner is defined distinctly. In alignment with the Business Model Canvas definitions, a Partner is another company that provides critical Resources or performs essential activities that are integral to our value creation for our Customers. This can include partners who act as sales or delivery channels, enabling us to reach broader markets by selling or delivering our Products and Services through their offerings to their customers.


Resources are Assets and capabilities crucial to the operation and value delivery of our business. This can include physical assets like hardware, intellectual properties such as software and patents, human skills and expertise, financial capital, or technological tools. Each Resource plays a specific role in supporting our Products, Services, and overall business strategy, enabling us to meet our objectives and satisfy customer needs.


While there are no official definitions, for us Support is a Service either included in the fixed billing of a Product or billed by-the-hour to help a Customer us the things we provide to them. For example how to use a function of APPUiO Cloud. A Support cases is done, when the customer has understood the answer or instructions. Follow-up work for us, is not in the scope of support.


Engineering is a frm of Service, and is about understanding an issue, problem or (Customer) need, designing and implementing a solution to address that need. We deliver a tangible result, not simply work for a customer.


Consulting is a form of Service and means working for a Customer by questioning their status quo, thoughts and ideas or understanding their problems and giving advice. It might involve writing concepts or delivering other artifacts, but as part of Consulting, we don’t implement a technical solution or take responsibility for what the customer does with our advice. That would fall into the area of Engineering.

Organization Structure at VSHN

Interest Group

See Interest Groups: A group of people coming from various teams solving a particular problem in the company. Interest Groups are orthogonal to teams.


A term from Sociocracy 3.0 - A distinct area of influence, activity and decision making within an organization. Domains for example describe what a team is accountable for within VSHN.


Information Security Management System of the Domain Information Security Management.


A person taking responsibility for something at VSHN. Usually the responsibilities are defined in a Domain description which is delegated to an individual person, then it’s a role and the person becomes the role keeper.

Role Keeper

See Role.


A group of people taking responsibility for part of VSHN. Usually the responsibilities are defined in a Domain description which is delegated to a group of people, through they become a Team and share the responsibility together.


The Role or Team that delegates a Domain to an individual or group of people. The delegator stays overall accountable, the individual or the group become the Delegatee(s)


The individual or the group of people who take responsibility for a Domain, delegated by the Delegator - either Team or a Role Keeper.


The name of the company, pronounced like the english word "vision:" ˈvɪʒn. It’s not an abbreviation, it’s just some characters put after each other, sounding like "vision."


An employee of VSHN.

Value Stream

A Value Stream is a value creation chain. It encompasses the entire process from developing products and services to the sales process, onboarding, project execution, daily operation, and support, and circles back to reviewing and modifying the solution periodically to fit the Customer's changing needs. This includes reselling adapted or new solutions. In our case, our focus is to continuously deliver value, not on-off tasks - that’s why Value Streams at VSHN can be seen as a cycle that only stops, when the customer leaves VSHN. A Value Stream is not necessarily a Team at VSHN, but we try to organize or at least align Teams and Roles as much as possible to one or similar Value Streams. More on this, see Align Flow Pattern.

Various terms invented by VSHN


Anyone aligned with the VSHN culture, mainly referring to our Values.


Our cool meeting room in Neugasse 6, 8th floor.

Good to know as a VSHNeer (inofficial)

Amboss Rampe

The brewery bar next door to the VSHN Zürich office, famous for its traditional beer.

Satay chicken day

There’s an excellent Thai food take-away next to the VSHN Zürich office, that serves excellent satay chicken once a week. That day is called "Satay chicken day."


Casual group coffee drinking over video conference, mix of words "Zoom" (video conference) and "Znüni" (Swiss-german word for mid-morning snack). Twitter post from one of our Znoomis.

Yak shaving

Going down the rabbit hole of task dependencies. Blogpost explanation, video example.

Tool naming

Some of our tools have really weird names. If you ever feel lost, just refer to this table.

Name Description Translation Wiki Source


Align your repository configuration files. Plain simple, with CI.





Kubernetes object syncer

Mirror (Spanish)



Cloud provider API integration for Keepalived



VSHN Package Cache

Package cache



Kubernetes / OpenShift Backup Operator

Kubernetes (K8s) backup

APPUiO Backup as a Service - K8up




Automated virtual machine image builds using Packer



Ansible callback plugin sending important messages to chat channels

Spanish for "Speaker" or "Broadcaster"



Local Puppet Vagrant environment



Downloads pending updates to local caches prior to weekly maintenance



Alertmanager to Icinga Bridge

Railway signal (Esperanto)

Alertmanager to Icinga2 Bridge Specification - Signalilo



Cleanup tool for Kubernetes

Japanese for "cleaning" (think “shine” in English)


German/English difficulties

Sometimes the German to English translation (or vice-versa) leads to confusion.

German English

Generalversammlung / GV

General Assembly




Chairman of the Board


Member of the Board




General Manager


Member of the Management