A Path Less Taken
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A Path Less Taken

Definition of Done image from scrum.org

Virtual Exercise to Create or Update a Definition of Done

  • The pie is prepared in an approved pie pan, measuring 9 inches in diameter and 1 and 1/4 inches deep
  • The pie contains the ingredients called for by the applicable pie recipe
  • The ingredients are on the approved ingredients list
  • The pie has a bottom crust
  • The edges of the pie crust are golden brown
  • For meat pies: the meat is pre-cooked before placement in the pie crust, and when baked in the pie oven, cooks for at least 15 minutes, at a temperature not less than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit
  • For custard pies: the pie must bake for at least 15 minutes, and until the edges are firm, and a light tap on the top of the pie causes only a slight jiggle at the pie’s center
  • For fruit pies: the pie must bake for at least 45 minutes

Virtual Definition of Done Exercise

  • We start with a set of physical or virtual cards, where each card has an item on it which we could potentially include in our DoD (we can either use David’s set of cards as is, or we can customize it)
  • We agree on a convention for how to pick items that the team feels comfortable with adding to/including in their DoD right now
  • We agree on a convention for which items the team feels they might not yet be ready to include in their DoD, but might want to include in the future
  • As a technique to distinguish and prioritize DoD items that feel like a good fit now, or perhaps may not be a good fit until later, or won’t ever apply, David uses Must Have > Nice to Have > Don’t Need. In the version of the exercise that I’ll describe below, I use Now > Next > Later.
  • I’ve create a public Trello board for this exercise. Many other tools would work at least as well, such as Mural or Miro.

Exercise Instructions

  • We’re using this exercise to talk about the current state of our Definition of Done (or, to create our DoD, if we don’t already have one). We’re going to move cards to the “Now” column on the board that we feel are currently reasonable items to include as part of our DoD.
  • We’re also going to talk about how we can potentially evolve our DoD over time, starting with the near term (using the “Next” column on the board), and also thinking further out, to the longer term (using the “Later” column on the board).
  • Call the team’s attention to the column on the board labeled “DoD Options,” which contains a set of cards, where each card contains an example of one thing that could potentially be included in the team’s DoD.
  • Pick any card from that column and ask the team to read it, to serve as an example of the available options, before starting the exercise.
  • Ask whether there are any questions.
  1. One by one, take a look at each card in the DoD Options column, and ask the team to suggest which cards they would be comfortable with including in their DoD right now. Drag those cards to the “Now column.”
  2. Ask the team to agree on a time frame for what “Next” represents (for instance, it could mean “within the next one to three iterations,” or perhaps a longer time frame).
  3. One by one, take a look at the remaining cards in the DoD Options column, and ask the team which of those cards that they would be comfortable with considering for addition to the DoD during the “Next” timeframe. Put those cards in the Next column.
  4. One by one, take a look at the remaining cards in the DoD Options column, and move those cards to the “Later” column.
  5. Revisit the cards that are in the Now column with the team, and verify that they are comfortable with including those in their current DoR.
  6. Have a conversation about what preparatory steps might need to get done to move cards from the “Next” column to the “Now column.” As applicable, Identify Action Items and ownership of those Action Items.
  7. Ask the team whether they can think of any other cards that they would like to add the board. If they would like to add any cards, create them in the appropriate column on the board.
  8. Take a look at the cards in the “Later” column, and see whether any of those cards should potentially be removed from the board (because it’s highly unlikely, if not impossible, that they would never be added to the team’s DoR). Delete any of those cards.
  9. Agree on where the DoD is to be displayed, whether a physical or virtual representation (or both).
  10. Agree on who is responsible for creating the DoD /updating the DoD.
  11. (optional) Ask the team to consider revisiting the DoD on a periodic basis during their Sprint Retrospective, and agree on how often they would like to do so (this is a form of “DoD hygiene,” to make sure the DoD aligns with where the team is on their continuous improvement journey).
  12. Thank the team for their participation in the exercise



This collection is for anyone who is looking for Lean-Agile content on a range of topics, with a particular focus on techniques that help with coaching and facilitation.

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Philip Rogers

I’m an Agile practitioner at TextNow — I love to work with Agile teams to help them collaborate and deliver, and have fun while doing it.