Once in awhile the topic of estimations pops out in my activity. I said once in awhile because I am thinking to a special kind of way to do estimations or better said how the idea of estimation is put on the scene in some contexts. This topic I have had it in my mind for a long time, which became obvious again these days.
1. Usually, when you ask people whether certain items can be made in a sprint ,people can say, maybe, also after some calibration, a clear answer like: “Yes, we think is ok for this sprint to do these” or “Yes, it makes sense to have those items for this sprint”. This means that although not explicitly, but implicitly, an estimation is being made.
– Let’s suppose that some unknowns were already clarified because of some spikes/investigations done a priori;
– “calibration” is an important word;
But, and maybe I am wrong, the same people when asked in detail(hours/points in the sprint) they will not feel comfortable with the estimation and with the meeting(s), because of doing this. I think this happens also because humans are messy and is ok.
What is not so ok, I think, is why to ask more specific estimation detail, for a sprint, when already the team said those things can be made in the sprint, and of course with the information they have for now is the maximum of work they can accept as a team?
There are some possible answers I can think of:
– maybe someone wants control in the sprint( maybe the managers of the manager of the project impose on him , or lack of trust, or outsourcing context where client paying by day involuntary triggers this need or because he/she knows that the setup of the team is not ok(let’s say the competency of team members)).
– I saw how tools like Jira entice some managers to ask these things;
– they do not understand why sprints/iterations were created;
2. Then are those estimations when getting a project and it has to be finished in, let’s say, 6 months. And the estimations “must be ok, they must not be wrong”. So, we have an initial “must be ok” estimation. But then after 4 sprints again a new estimation is done – of course I imagine people joy to do that because the estimation wanted to be done, strangely, must be “ok”…
So that kind of project is being managed in a way by the “must be ok” estimations, if I can say so – just to make me clear: I am speaking about ( and I am influenced by Alicia Juarrero ) using estimations as a placid background, like an equilibrium structure, like an indication of stability( small deviations around equilibrium).
Note: I am assuming that a project is not in an obvious state, it can be also in complex situations.
Estimations – in a way or the other – we use them. We use them implicitly or explicitly or deduced and in various forms( relative, time, distributions…) and it makes sense as a concept.
I think that the estimations, more often, are being used by managers in a wrong way, for example like a pressure consciously/unconsciously/unknowingly. And this is actually the problem. Maybe this is happening because of the mechanistic way of their thinking or lack of knowledge or … They choose the wrong metaphor, they do not deal with a refinery/factory, but with an ecology. Also, probably at least what I saw, most of them do not take a look at what psychology, neuroscience have to say about this and adapt their actions.
I do not think is ok to encourage the dichotomy ProEstimate and No Estimate, I think here is a continuum between them.
(1) Adrian Lander, “Linked In discussion”, https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6426405267491164160
(2) Dave Snowden, “Humans are messy”, http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/humans-are-messy/
(3) Alicia Juarrero, “Safe-Fail, NOT Fail-Safe ”, https://vimeo.com/95646156