Sign saying propane tanks are not allowed in store.

Sometimes no is the right answer and sometimes it is not!

I have been asked many times whether it is “ok” to include work that is not complete in a demonstration/sprint review.  The simple answer is that is a bad idea 95% of the time. If the answer is no most of the time, what would the default answer to “yes”?  The only good reason to demonstrate an incomplete user story is when feedback is needed or desired to allow the team to progress and the people participating in the demo are the right people.  Allowing the team to progress is not the same demonstrating progress …we have discussed the definition of bad. Occasionally I have seen the need to show progress for reasons of organizational politics.  Not a great reason, but sometimes you have to do what is necessary to stay employed. Both of these reasons should be RARE. I have a rule: I do not spend money that is older than I am — demo’ing incomplete stories should be at least that rare.  An unasked question that is even more important when the “can I demo incomplete work” question is asked, is how can you demo incomplete work items and stay safe. (Note – Generally when people ask if they can demo incomplete items they already have or are going to do it anyway and are looking for absolution.)  

Demo’ing Incomplete Story Safety Checklist


Danger - Keep Off Track High Voltage

I was recently asked if a story was done if when implemented it would break production. The suggestion is that since the specific code meets the requirements identified in the user story and was unit tested the team should be able to celebrate success and put another story on the backlog to fix the problem that would lead to a production failure. This, not a rare or silly question. Before we look at the reason why someone might ask this question let’s deal with a black and white answer. The most succinct answer to the question is always, “no, the story is not done”. The reason is that the story is not implementable and unless the goal of the story is blow up production and anger customers it can’t be considered done. There are four common scenarios that generate the is a story done if it breaks production question. (more…)