Beware of the Definition of Ready
The redundancy of a misunderstood attribute
The Definition of Ready (DoR) is a controversial concept. Many people see it as a vital part of Scrum. In their eyes, the DoR exists to help everyone have the same understanding of when a Product Backlog Item is ready for a Sprint. The item should have clear commencement criteria. Often teams use techniques like INVEST (Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small and Testable).
Opponents of the Definition of Ready argue that it conflicts with an Agile way of working. According to them, it incentivizes Waterfall thinking and task completion over meeting a goal.
But is the Definition of Ready actually Scrum? Well, it USED to be.
Ever since the birth of Scrum, teams needed to have a certain level of confidence they can achieve the objectives of a Sprint. The minimum has been a description and a size. But teams could decide if they wanted additional information before they started working on an item.
In the 2000s, the Definition of Ready became a defined concept and it was added as a complementary practice to Scrum. The second edition of the Scrum Guide, published in 2011, added the Definition of Ready to the rules of Scrum. In 2020, the Definition of Ready ceased to be a rule, so it’s back to being complementary practice.
The Definition of Ready is controversial. It should be handled with care. When you decide to use it, be wary not to over-analyze your items. You should allow teams to find their best way to create an Increment. You should not take away these decisions with an overly big and rigid Definition of Ready.