The Definition of Done a meaningful Value Stream Exploration

The Purpose

 This post is one in a series of essays about the alikeness of Agile mindet and Lean thinking, based on synergy between some each “thinking stream” practices. More specific, the similarities between Agile  principles and Lean ones are implemented by “named” practices as different perspectives taken to reach the same purpose.


This post states that Definition of Done, so much used by Agile teams (software teams expanded sometimes to Operations ) is the Agile way to map the Value Stream in Agile organizations.


The Grain of the Idea

The exercise proposed in this post was inspired from a special experience I had , when I saw the results for a search I made on “Value Stream Mapping /Images” . I encourage you to do this experiment and I’d be happy to have your feed-back about the common sense and usability of the stuff  you found . For example,  the way the results displayed empowers meaningful Visual Management is very unclear to me and

the images displayed urged me to seek a sensible-easy way to identify and recognize value.


The Value : What does matters in what teams achieve 

I’d be happy if the semantics contained in the word “value”could be saved before it turns in a baggy word until  the end of time, due to continuous slogan driven usage .

While sitting at the customer (of  a product a company/team has the mission deliver) window, I  see a definition proposal of Value that will go like that :

Value ( brought by the product) means the pertinence of usage that this product brings to me. The level of usage may be scaled from “hey this is real helpful”, to t”his made my life/business better” and ultimately to – I” need to have this right now” ( see Steve Denning’s definition of  Customer Delight ) .

Of course , value is brought to an organisation by other elements like the capacity to learn. The focus here will stay on “value form a customer perspective” .



Definition of Done : Understanding how value will be measured 

Definition of Done is a list of success criteria. If teams have a hard time to build that list,  that means that not all stakeholders  that contribute to “what to be delivered” have a common understanding, either of the success criteria,  or of who should ensure the success.  Definition of Done have multiple facets , just like a diamond.  To have a diamond you need to tale care of all those. There is no Done, Done-Done or triple Done. One diamond is done when it is perfectly polished . Full-stop.  So Definition of Done includes customer success criteria, stakeholders success criteria, Business people success criteria, Operations success criteria, developers and testers success criteria and so on.

While looking at all this aspects, you may realize that understanding what the definition of done means for your team, involves you in the journey of  discovering what is “value” and how it is produced in your organization.  For Lean people this should sound familiar . It sounds very Value Stream Exploration”.

I avoid to use  “mapping”, as I’m not sure we map something with something else . We just explore , observe and improve.


Therefore ,a powerful way to have a proficient  “Definition of Done” may be to build the value stream of the product that your team is trying to achieve.

Or the other way around : Acquiring a “Definition of Done” shared by all actors allows you to build a meaningful map of stream of value you want to deliver to your customer .

You may use all techniques, artifacts or tools at hand , as long as anyone is on the same page of what is value how it will be achieved (“Done”) and how each member of the team contributes to it.


Good luck !

About ojuncu

Après une expérience de plus de 15 ans le développement logiciel et le management des équipes IT (de l’architecture applicative chez General Electric à la tête de la direction informatique d’Eurosport) , Oana a arrêté son choix sur les démarches Agile, qu’elle pense être l’approche la plus adaptée pour les organisation du 21ème siècle, focalisées sur la réalisation produits de qualité, pertinents pour leur clients des produits et disponibles au plus vite, en s’appuyant sur des équipes épanouies. Oana intervient à la fois comme catalyseur de Transformation Agile, en aidant les organisation ( du coeur de métier au développement et services support ) à adopter Agile, et comme coach et/ou formateur Agile et Lean Coach sur le terrain des équipes projet. Son credo est l’évolution durable via le soutien de la collaboration et le bénéfice de l’intelligence collective : un résultant remarquable ne peut être créé qu’avec des contributeurs volontaires .Dans le même esprit du soutien de la “connaissance connectée, créatrice de valeur”, et partage des connaissances, Oana participe activement dans la communauté Agile française et internationale; Elle est intervenue comme orateur dans plusieurs conférences comme XP2012, Agile Tour, ALE, et comme organisateur actif des évènements Agile au niveau européen
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