Is it Done?

If you are a Breaking Bad fan then you already know Saul and Mike. The following scene is from the prequel series “You Better Call Saul”. Heads up though, it’s not my intention to review the series.

The video highlights how a Scrum Team should behave with regard to the increment and the Definition of Done. If you don’t know what the increment and the Definition of Done are, stop here and read the Scrum Guide.

So, imagine you are a Product Owner/stakeholder and the Dev Team comes to you with an increment to present. Your first question would be: “Does it fulfil the DoD?”. If the answer is “No”, then don’t bother. Seriously, simply don’t bother. If the Dev Team argues that there are only some tiny details that need to be furnished and practically it is all done, then still, don’t bother. The devil is hiding in the details. Keep in mind that Done means Done. Don’t accept seeing something that is not Done.

If undone work is accepted, then two things happen imho:

The Dev Team is not held accountable for not adhering to the Definition of Done. Teams will start adopting the toxic habit of “it’s ok if it’s not 100% done”, which leads to the second and most important point: loss of transparency and inevitably loss of the ability to inspect and adapt. Blurry transparency impedes the Scrum Team and the stakeholders from knowing where they really are. In other words, how much progress has been achieved and the potential business value that can be delivered.  By missing that, we can’t really know what and how to inspect, which eventually leads to no adaptation, since inspection is irrelevant due to lack of the increment’s transparency. Furthermore the damage upon empirical process control, which is based on the three pillars of transparency, inspection and adaptation, will be unavoidable. 

In short, be like Mike; ask the Dev Team: “Is it Done according to the Definition of Done?”. If they start mumbling words other than a simple “Yes” or “No”, don’t bother. Time is valuable and life is short.

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