It’s Part Of The Story’s Intent!

Scenario: Husband and wife being Agile at home. They have a Kanban board with the usual three columns: ‘To do’, ‘In Process’, ‘Done’. Lots of stories slotted under the ‘To do’ column; zero stories under the ‘In Process’ column, hence there is a free capacity to pull in the highest prioritized story and do work on it. The husband pulled in the highest prioritized story at that moment — ‘wash, dry and neatly fold clothes’ — from the ‘To do’ column and placed the story under the ‘In Process’ column…and proceeded working on it. A few hours later, here is the scene:

Husband, after folding the last washed and dried clothes, happily exclaimed: ‘Done!’

Wife — after inspecting the work — said: ‘No, you are not done, yet!’

Husband: ‘Of course I am, honey, I followed our earlier agreed-upon definition of done’

Wife: ‘You forgot to iron the clothes before you folded them’

Husband: ‘Ironing is not part of the definition of done — I double checked it’

Wife: ‘It’s part of the story’s intent!

backdrop: wife grew up with neatly folded clothes ironed by their maids … ironing clothes before folding is a given and is expected when she wrote the story, ‘ … neatly fold clothes’. In her mind, the story has the intent of ironing the clothes (she is a proponent of stories without tasks)!


Sometimes stories are black and white, sometimes gray, sometimes colored with intent… so obvious to some but not to others.

To mitigate, remember to employ the fundamental… the 3C: card, conversation, and confirmation.

When I am ordering something at McDonald’s … when I am placing my order, there is a conversation going on between me and the McDonald’s associate … then we wrap it up with a confirmation of my order… my order is read back to me by the associate for me to confirm… once confirmed, the associate puts forth my order (I pay; gives me receipt with order#) … and I can see a ‘card‘ representation of my order — they have an electronic ‘kanban board’ with this ‘card’ on it — move from ‘To do’, to ‘In Process’, to ‘Done’. Once ‘Done’, my order# is called out, I go to the counter for pickup… my order is handed off to me … I inspect it… if something is off, I tell them to fix it… otherwise, I thank them and I accept my order, and we both move on our separate ways.

A good to great Story closes with a contribution to the incremental delivery of a high quality service and/or a product of value… with no re-do, no refactoring, no technical debt that could potentially clog and/or slow down the ‘Continuous Delivery Pipeline.’