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2013.09.06

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Glen B. Alleman

So here's the problem. "what if..." is the starting point. This is non-testable and simply anecdotal conjecture.

No domain, context, or governance basis.

But a critical notion here. These are developers talking, not PM's or business managers of developers. This is a bottoms up, which "could" be interesting, but not suggestion of how to test the conjecture outside of a very personal belief system.

This is not "bad science," this is bad management. So now we're coming to the end I think, Woody is back letting people post, others have come to defend the notion the "labor" has better ideas than management - a possibly good idea, but as explained the conjecture is loaded with cognitive biases - like "estimating is bad."

Even Ester a credible speaker has posted pure "bad management" processes, http://goo.gl/ZChwxU

It's become common to look for bad management then propose a solution that starts by abandoning all good principles, practices, and processes and replace them with some personal anecdotal example that can never be syndicated outside a narrow domain.

Patrick Richard

Glen,

I agree that project management is not science and that bad management is not bad science. I'm certain that you get where I'm going though; we must exercise our critical thinking,specially when it comes to concepts like #NoEstimates.

It appears to me, as you noted, that the old management/labor "conflict" is present here as in Agile. Most managers don't abuse "labor". I find it funny that after being "labor" for many years, becoming management automatically made me the bogey man in the eye of some...

As I stated in my post, we can put facts on the table to educate each other and improve our collective lot or we can lob anecdotes and opinions while refusing to budge one inch (2.54 cm).

I hope that the hardcore #NoEstimates proponents can come up with some facts. I'll be waiting.

George Dinwiddie

Hi, Patrick,

I find the same problem in your blog post that I find in most of those recommending NoEstimates. That is, it makes recommendations without discussing the context assumed for those recommendations.

Most of the writing on NoEstimates is talking about low-level task or user story estimates. My own experience agrees that effort spent trying to improve estimation at this level is often less productive than doing without those estimates. For user stories, just counting them can be sufficient. (See http://idiacomputing.com/pub/Agile2012-What%27s%20the%20Point%20Of%20Story%20Points.pdf for a brief discussion of that.) Of course, this is the same as estimating them all as 1-point stories. If you're worried about that, getting better at creating small, explicit stories will pay off better than getting better at estimation.

If you're doing timeboxed agile iterations, then the details within each timebox (sprint or iteration) is not terribly important for managing the project. There's generally too much noise in the daily data. Managing at the daily level often leads to micromanagement and interference. It's sufficient, in my experience, to manage using the data generated by each development timebox. If this does not give you sufficient granularity, then I would suggest shortening the timebox.

What the NoEstimates crowd generally avoids discussing is the longer-term bigger-picture view that seems to be necessary for managing a successful organization. This is where estimates seem more useful, and perhaps required.

Even here, it's not a slam-dunk that we should estimate everything we can. I think it's important to determine what question we're trying to answer using estimation, and how much precision we need. It's also prudent to think about how we can validate our estimate as early or frequently as possible.

I'm not a fan of estimation, but I find I've written more on this topic than I ever expected to write. You can find some of it published on my blog at http://blog.gdinwiddie.com/tag/estimation/

Patrick Richard

George,

Thank you for your comments. I have blogged and been on Twitter about #noEstimates quite a bit.

I'll post again trying to address your comments and bring the subject to the top.

Regards,

Patrick

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