The Power of Done

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Gunther Verheyen says that Scrum starts with Done and a recent incident in a Scrum Team I’m working with helped me remember the power of the Definition of Done.

What Happened?

Whilst working with the team to use Scrum, they experienced for the first time in a long time they could achieve what they set out to do and that there was value in their deeds.

A few days into the sprint, I was looking at the sprint burndown and the team was trending on the ideal line. This meant a few things:

  1. We were starting to size our Product Backlog Items to a size that the team could deliver regularly throughout the sprint.
  2. We were starting to realise the value in the stories.
  3. We were starting to build a reputation that we could deliver.

In my joy of seeing this I decided to show the burndown to the Product Owner. To my surprise he didn’t know that the items had been completed and were now done. I was surprised as the Definition of Done for the team had an item of –

“Stories have been accepted by the Product Owner”

The work hadn’t met the Definition of Done – it wasn’t done.

I brought the team to the scrum board and asked if there was something wrong with the board. They said that it looked normal and then I pointed to the Definition of Done and the “Done” column. Reading the points the team realised what I was showing them.

Why Does this Matter?

Not following the Definition of Done affects Transparency, one of the three pillars within Scrum (Inspection and Adaption being the other two).

The Definition of Done is a statement of what must be done to the Product Backlog item in order to create a releasable increment. It provides transparency and consistency to each item that the team works on and what must happen to the item for it to be considered done.

If a team has a Definition of Done and doesn’t meet it then uncertainty creeps in which increasing risk to the overall product.

What Did the Team Learn?

They learned that if they say something is done it needs to be done.

They learned that they are accountable to each other and that the Definition of Done should be at the heart of everything they do.

 

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