As you are aware, Scrum is based on values very nice summarized by Mike Vizdos’s o this cartoon.

Scrum Values, principles

All of them, however, requires to define working agreement supporting creation of these values. An adaptation is in Scrum done at different levels, mostly through collaboration. Teams  have to have common understanding, common vocabulary.

We use word Done to indicate that work is completed. But what does it really mean? When done is done? An agile customer is interested in delivered value. The value that is developed, tested and deployed. But for every team there are additional activities that need to be done.

Definition of Done is a guidline what Done means. Teams are in many cases able to write it directly within one meeting. In case your team is large then you need to have common agreement. This is exatly the situation in which you can use retrospective techniques to create DoD.

Real life

The last week we  were coaching team that has been created from two enterprise companies. The team in which there are 8 different cultures, the team with more than 12 people. The team tried to define done for more than 2 months with very slow progress because of personalities, experience and knowledge specialization.

As they asked us to help them from coaching perspective, we tried to bring retrospective techniques into this game.

Before the workshop, we provided some examples of Definition of Done from different perspectives.

Scrum, agile, dod, Definition of Done - an example

We started with an introduction of the process and tried to focus people on defining what Done means in case of a story.  The coach then asked everyone to write one line per card in 10 minutes timebox. Cards were collected on the flipchart so everyone could access them.

As the next step we asked to do a silent sort. The technique which allows to group, sort a big number of cards without any talk hence allow people to be equal.  As there were a lot of people, we split the team into 2 teams. The second team reviewed proposal groups and added a couple of more.  As the last step the team assigned a name to group.

The result for futher discussion was:

  • Groups – bullet points for definition  of done. All bullet points were printed on one sheet and pinned in team room.
  • Cards belonging to group were explanation of what does it mean. The explanation was ( together with groups) rewritten into team wiki page so anyone, even the new team member, can find it.


Instead of months of thinking about Done the team was able to write and commit to it in 10 minutes 30 seconds. Team later identified DoD for sprint, release and project.

Isn’t it great?