A Small Experiment

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Happy/Sad Face Board The second (and possibly more powerful) part of our experiment involved pushing back on the business. We told the PO that any stories that didn't have requirements by the second day of the sprint would be taken off of our task board and not done until the following sprint. We neglected to specify the time on the second day of the sprint by which we needed all requirements, and our PO delivered some at 11 pm. But, he got the requirements for all the stories to us, and this was a great result!

At our next retrospective, we went through the stories on the whiteboard and talked about how we felt about each one. Interestingly, some stories that had a sad face ended up going well, and some with a happy face turned out to be trickier than we had thought. This gave us a better understanding of what we really need to know about each story before we start working on it.

We couldn't do anything directly about our PO being overworked or about the business people failing to provide information. But, we could try this experiment to make our lack of requirements visible and to say to the business people, "We aren't going to waste our time and yours if we don't have the requirements at the start of the sprint." If this experiment hadn't helped, we would have tried another one. Have your retrospectives, but also try small experiments. I am betting you will find unexpected ways to improve how you work.

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About the author

Lisa Crispin's picture Lisa Crispin

Lisa Crispin is the co-author, with Janet Gregory, of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams (Addison-Wesley, 2009), co-author with Tip House of Extreme Testing (Addison-Wesley, 2002) and a contributor to Beautiful Testing (O’Reilly, 2009) and Experiences of Test Automation by Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster (Addison-Wesley, 2011). She has worked as a tester on agile teamssince 2000, and enjoys sharing her experiences via writing, presenting, teaching and participating in agile testing communities around the world. Lisa was named one of the 13 Women of Influence in testing by Software Test & Performance magazine in 2009. For more about Lisa’s work, visit www.lisacrispin.com.

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