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I’ve started working on a series of articles about the value of having testers involved in requirements gathering.  Today I was reminded of a useful tool that has provided value to me for at least 20 years.  To those of you who already use this tool, I’m interested in your stories where it has made a difference for you, and to those of you who have never heard of it, I hope sharing it will make a difference in your careers.


I was reminded of it because I just finished a 3 month set of personal projects and was reviewing the success of those projects while putting together my next set of 3 month projects.  During this review, I noticed that a good number of my projects did not have the level of success that I wanted.  The results were good, but they could have been better.  Then it hit me, I didn’t have clear enough doneness criteria.  As a Scrum Practitioner, I wouldn’t think of running a sprint without reviewing the backlog with Einstein's Razor, so why wouldn’t I do the same for my own projects? 


I can hear a few of you asking "What's Einstein's Razor?"


I'm glad you asked.  I was once told that Einstein told an audience, "If you can't explain what you do to a relatively bright six year old, you probably don't understand it yourself." 


This quote had an impact on me, especially early in my career as a solo developer.  At the time, I was mostly doing end to end software development.  I found that I saved myself a lot of pain and trouble by turning that quote around to “If you can't explain your project's doneness criteria in such a way that a relatively bright six year old can't competently determine your projects success or failure, then you have not broken it down to a fine enough level.”  There are more negatives in that quote than I’m happy with, but it still gives me tons of value to this day.



In your opinion, in your current projects, could a 6 year old competently pass or fail your next sprint?  What risks are you running if your answer is “No” ?

Posted on Thursday, June 17, 2010 9:55 PM Agile Development , Con Livus , Leadership , Scrum | Back to top

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