Ways to Get Flow – The Definition of Done

One of the interesting observations coming out in a new engagement is how teams define done, in particular how a waterfall team defines DONE and how an Agile/ Kanban system defines done!

Within waterfall we are done when we get to the end of the project. Testing gives us a list of things that aren’t working, we then fix those and keep going until we either remove all the bugs or we finish the official testing period. During this time change requests probably come in from the front of the flow through analysis with the end result that the team is never really done. There is a hidden expectation for the team that they never stop working on something, so when asked, what is in the next iteration, the answer can be, updating what we have already done!

This has some interesting consequences when a team decides to shift into sprints/ Kanban continuous flow because the goal here is to FINISH work before starting something else and for me, that implies that not all issues uncovered in testing will be taken as new work, some of it may go into backlog.


This seems to be a rather uncomfortable reality for teams who have been embedded in what I am calling waterfall thinking.

Can you get flow if you don’t stop working on something ?

Isn’t that the definition of flow, that we start something and finish it and then start something else ?


How have you managed this in your world ?