Learnings

ideas_lightbulbSince we didn’t have anyone on the extremes, we elected to explore the learnings a bit differently as a group.  We formulated two similar questions on informing one side what they could learn from the other side. Originally we planned to break into the two camps people indicated they leaned towards, but since we didn’t have that division, we adapted the questions to explore each side.

What would you tell a “Proestimates” person they can learn from the “No Estimates “crowd?

Remember, these are learnings that may be helpful, we’re not asking you to give up your need to estimate for any length of time, though there is a request to try dropping them at least once and see what is like with your team.

  • Estimates have a cost. Make sure the value is greater than the cost.
  • Have you assessed if your estimations actually provide value?
  • Treat estimates (of value in particular) as a hypothesis
  • A team gets more self-organized gradually, so estimates will increase in both accuracy and precision over time and yet also become less necessary
  • Estimation does not encourage sharing of risk between parties (it provides a scapegoat mechanism)
  • Estimation creates longer feedback cycles
  • The very way estimation is done matters, and some ways can turn people off to it.
  • Not estimating does not mean not planning/No estimates ≠ No planning (you change the focus of what you talk about)
  • Question assumptions
  • I don’t care if the project ends tomorrow (invokes a head in the sand attitude – the estimate produces false confidence of project necessity)
  • Effective measurement systems can improve estimates (and reduce the need for them); estimation can reduce the desire to improve the measurement system
  • Keep estimating, but ensure it is really the right level of fidelity and not overkill
  • Stay focused on working software
  • Delivering working software is more fun than doing so with estimates – try it before judging
  • It’s OK to acknowledge you don’t have perfect knowledge
  • Know alternatives to answering questions other than just estimates
  • Ask WHY you are estimating/Question WHY you are asking for or providing estimates
  • Reducing the time to estimate can give you more time towards delivery
  • Devolution is real, meaning estimation is not a necessity under all circumstances, don’t stay stuck in the past

What would you tell a “No Estimates“ person they can learn from the “Proestimates” crowd?

Remember, these are learnings that may be helpful, we’re not asking you to take up doing estimates, though as you’ll see estimation gets a bad rap due to other issues in the system.

  • The conversations that take place during estimating can help a team arrive at a shared understanding of the work
  • Don’t discards value that can come from estimates and the estimating process
  • Estimates can drive learning of a shared understanding of a task
  • Estimations make teams be better prepared for clarity and visibility
  • You need to do something to set goals/expectations
  • Estimates are scapegoats for other organizational dysfunctions (such as their misuse)/don’t throw out estimates and keep broader organizational dysfunction
  • Estimates can show many different things that could be amiss in a team/organization
  • Points, time, & $ are not the only things we estimate
  • The right estimation gives/makes better release planning
  • Lots of implied estimations occur
  • Many of our assumptions (e.g. what is most valuable) are intuitive estimates
  • Unless you measure how will the team manage?
  • Measure more
  • Focus more on testable hypotheses if not estimating
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15.0 Agile Dialogs Schedule

0900 – 0930 Registration, mingle & meet

0930 – 0945 Welcome & How the Day Will Work (ground rules)

0945 – 1000 Organize! (Self-Register into groups, each will explore the same topic, also place types of things you estimate on the board with your name) 

1000 – 1100 1st Sessions

1100 – 1115 *Break w/quick news*

1115 – 1215 2nd Sessions

1215 – 1300 *Lunch w/quick news*

1300 – 1400 3rd Sessions

1400 – 1415 *Break w/quick news*

1415 – 1515 4th Sessions

1515 – 1530 *Break w/quick news*

1530 – 1630 5th Sessions

1630 – 1645 *Break w/quick news*

1645 – 1700 Wrap-Up

1700 – 1730 Retrospective (Optional Attendance)  

After this if anyone is still wanting to hang out for a bit, we can retire to a local bar-restaurant for food, libations, and conversations.

—————–

1st Sessions – Explore the questions: 

  • “Tell your stories. What successes AND failures have you had when using either of these approaches?”
  • “And how have the techniques you have chosen helped or hindered you?”
  • Expectation – each group will record how techniques help or hinder on flip chart paper to allow other groups to see what they did during the break.

2nd Sessions – Explore the questions: 

  • ““What objectives are you trying to achieve by using estimates or in specifically not using them?”
  • “And what techniques do you use to achieve those objectives?”
  • Expectation – each will group record the objectives and techniques on flip chart paper to allow other groups to see what they did during the break.

3rd Sessions – Explore the question: 

  • “What fundamental assumptions are being made when you use estimates?”
  • Expectation – each group will record assumptions on flip chart paper to allow other groups to see what they did during the break.

4th Sessions – Explore the question: 

  • “What fundamental assumptions are being made when you don’t use estimates?”
  • Expectation – each group will record the assumptions on flip chart paper to allow other groups to see what they did during the break.

5th Sessions – Explore the question: 

  • “Now that you have heard more about the other side’s perspective and how they use or don’t use estimates, what learnings can you take back to improve what you do?” [This does not meaning you have to adopt their position, just is there some nugget that you learned today that will be something you’d like to try?]
  • Expectation – each group will record the learnings on flip chart paper to and present during the break.