Definitions of NoEstimates

I’ve noticed people argue for (or against) #NoEstimates in a bunch of different ways. They’ll often say “what #NoEstimates is really about is…”

  1. Size everything about the same and count them, it’ll give you just as good results as estimating, without the cost of estimating.
  2. Split stories as small as you can and then count them, it’ll give you just as good results as estimating, without the cost of estimating.
  3. It’s useful to estimate whole projects so you can decide whether to fund them, but don’t waste time estimating day-to-day activities.
  4. Estimate day-to-day activites because they are simple enough to understand, but don’t try to estimate whole projects which are full of unknowables.
  5. Estimates are unreliable, so we shouldn’t use them to make decisions. That would be irresponsible.
  6. Estimate value, not cost. Value varies by orders of magnitude. High-value work will exceed the cost by so much that cost won’t matter.
  7. The parts of our work that can be estimated aren’t the parts that matter: if you understand work well enough to estimate it reliably, then it’s in the Known/Complicated or Obvious domains and you should automate it away.
  8. We could estimate reliably, but there are other approaches that produce better outcomes. Using estimtes takes your attention away from those other approaches.
  9. When there’s a lot of technical debt, you can’t estimate reliably because you don’t know when you’ll hit a quagmire. Accidental complexity greatly exceeds essential complexity, but inconsistently. See “7 minutes 26 seconds”.
  10. When the team owns its business outcomes, it doesn’t need estimates. See “AFM Optimizing”.
  11. My boss uses estimates as a tool of abuse and manipulation, creating an unsafe work environment.

I’m not trying to judge any of these ideas. As Tim Ottinger put it:

So, in summary, there is a community of people sharing a hashtag, with various camps going about things differently and finding different value by doing so?

I do find it interesting that some of the ideas are in conflict with others.

Have you seen others? What catches your attention?

Written on March 27, 2019