Rules are there to be broken!
In agile, a poorly written story, with not very precise acceptance criteria can lead to it being finished, but not the result the team were looking for.
So what to do?
Pass the story and live with a whole bunch of technical debt? Not an ideal situation. Every time you go near the offending code, you’re reminded of ‘that sprint; the shame of it. Or worse, it sets a precedent for the current team and new members. The gate could be thrown open to future code abuse.
Fail the story and fail the sprint? This sends a very clear message to the team, Product Owner and sponsors; we failed. Sometimes a necessary message to send, particularly in a culture where people like to forget bad news. But not a great outcome; after all, agile is predicated on success. You set yourself up to be successful by only taking the work that you think is possible, not being given what someone else thinks you can do. So failure really is a last resort.
Perhaps a third option; pass the story and sprint, but write a new story into the upcoming sprint to fix the technical debt. Not the perfect ‘potentially shippable code’ that we all aim for, and as a one-off, perhaps an acceptable solution.
Only if it’s a one off.
As I often say; what’s the first rule of agile? Break the rules, but only once!
Geoff blogs from a flat overlooking the intersection of Agile, Business, and Life
You can read all of Geoff’s blogs here.
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