Many agile teams do not finish all their committed stories is at the end of the sprint.  There could be several reasons for this.  It could be that the team members started multiple stories at the same time and many testing tasks remain undone towards the end of the sprint.  Sometimes, a team commits to a story when they didn’t understand the story clearly and discovered new work during the sprint.  Or it could be that they didn’t have specific skillset within the team and had to rely on outside help to complete their work and that help didn’t come through.  Some teams also may not have explicit done criteria, and there is a disconnect between what they produced and what the product owner or the customer expected.

For all those teams who don’t finish their stories within a sprint, should consider adopting Pierre de Fermat as their patron saint, whose 410 birthday, Google celebrated with this doodle:

Pierre de Fermat Google Doodle
(hover text says: “I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain.)

Pierre de Fermat, a lawyer by the day and a mathematician by night, is best remembered for Fermat’s Last Theorem.  According to an article in Christian Science Monitor:

Fermat’s marginalia, which was written in Latin and later discovered by his son after he died, read: “It is impossible to separate a cube into two cubes, or a fourth power into two fourth powers, or in general, any power higher than the second, into two like powers. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain.”
In other words, an + bn can never equal cn, as long as a, b, and c are positive integers and as long as n is greater than two.  

Fermat never got around to writing his proof down and his theorem confounded mathematicians for over 400 years, till it was solved in 1994.

As an antidote to all the unfinished business, Bre Pettis and Kio Stark, with a 20 minutes time box, got done with the Cult of Done Manifesto:

The Cult of Done Manifesto

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.

The Done Manifesto was brilliantly illustrated by James Provost:

It is a wonderful reminder for agile teams to have your story Done criteria defined and complete your stories in a single sprint, so you are closer to a shippable product.