Organizational standards and the Definition of Done

Last post 04:05 am March 17, 2022
by Ian Mitchell
3 replies
01:47 pm March 16, 2022

Consider the following excerpt from the 2020 Scrum Guide;

If the Definition of Done for an increment is part of the standards of the organization, all Scrum Teams must follow it as a minimum. If it is not an organizational standard, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriate for the product.

I might be reading too hard into it, but I'm trying to correctly interpret this statement. At first, I understood from it that organizational standards must be part of the Definition of Done. However, that interpretation makes the Scrum Guide's phrasing seem weird. I figure the wording would instead be (changes in bold):

If there are organizational standards, all Scrum Teams must include them as a minimum in their Definition of Done. If there are no organizational standards, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriate for the product.

Revisting the statement, I could also interpret it as saying that if having a Definition of Done is part of the standards, each team must have one. If not, then each team must create one anyway.  But that makes the statement kind of verbose because it could just say something like

The Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriate for the Product.

So is any of the interpretations here correct? If not, what's a better interpretation? 


06:10 pm March 16, 2022

Your interpretation is exactly what mine is:

If there are organizational standards, those become the minimum Definition of Done. Scrum Teams may enhance this minimum standard as they see appropriate. If there aren't organizational standards, the Scrum Team creates the Definition of Done.

The other case is in a multi-team (scaled) Scrum environment. The Scrum Teams need to have a baseline, shared Definition of Done, but individual teams may enhance the Definition of Done on their own.

09:19 pm March 16, 2022

I interpret it similarly to you but not exactly.  

The way I interpret it is that if the organization has created a Definition of Done, all teams must follow it.  If one is not created for the organization, each Scrum Team must create their own Definition of Done. However this is not mutually exclusive.  There can be an organizational Definition of Done and also team level Definitions of Done. 

My guidance has always been that if there is an organizational Definition of Done, teams can also have their own to be more restrictive or to have something specific to their product that might not be needed for all products.  I do advocate that a Team level Definition of Done can not be less restrictive than the Organization Definition of Done or allow not adhering to any condition of the Organizational Definition of Done. 

To be clear, this is my opinion and not something that is elaborated in the Scrum Guide. 

04:05 am March 17, 2022

Most Scrum Teams are not garage start-ups: there is usually an established company with a duty of care to stakeholders and a brand and reputation to be protected. The parent organization should therefore be the first port of call for a Definition of Done so quality can be assured and further improved.