Earlier this year I was in an Open Space workshop about teaching games. We chose the Definition of Done as a game subject and started brainstorming ways to illustrate its importance. It was harder than we anticipated. Ironically, we ran out of time and did not finish our game about being done.

I did get one insight out of this exercise that I find useful in my teaching and coaching now. I average about two original thoughts per year so I am hanging on to this one with both hands. We started with the question “What does it mean to be done?”. This question was surprising difficult to answer. I closed my eyes, made a plea to the Muses, reached back into my life experiences of things completed in jobs, hobbies, school, chores. I gathered up the feeling that was common to them all. And this emerged:

“Done” means that I don’t have to think about it anymore.

This post is done.



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My Definition of Done

One thought on “My Definition of Done

  • April 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I just discovered some evidence for my insight. It is called the Zeigarnik Effect. We can’t stop thinking about things that are not done. More thinking interrupts whatever else we are doing, causing anxiety. A vicious cycle results. We stop thinking about tasks once they are completed.


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