#NoEstimates episode 2 – THE ANSWERS

noestimatesA normal person would expect that sharing free content doesn’t create controversy. Well this normal person is wrong. A couple of weeks back I shared a report on #NoEstimates based on my adoption experience in the last 2-3 years.

I got some thanks, some praise, but mainly aggravation. I had noticed this trend before when tweeting about #NoEstimates, when a group of individuals taunted me with replies and links to their articles that according to them clearly demonstrated that estimates are absolutely necessary and vital for the universe not to implode.

Examples are… People talking to each other by replying to my tweets as if I wasn’t there:

Others saying that what I did had no value and I was trying to sell something 😦

Apparently all this because while looking into my crystal ball I didn’t predict I had to answer this plethora of questions:


Even though Mr. Kretzman refused to explain why I should answer those questions as part of a free experience report, today I feel generous and I am going to answer them, ONE BY ONE.

Q1: What do you specifically mean by NoEstimates in your case?

I mean that our development teams don’t lock themselves in a meeting room shooting numbers after perceived size of a piece of work, they save that time and focus on breaking the work down in less complex pieces.

 Q2: What were the details of the domain and situation (value at risk, type of project, technologies employed, size and duration of effort, governance model, industry, team size)?

The domain is sports betting and gaming. The value at risk is the value of a bookmaker with well over 8 billion euro turnover. The type of project is all projects, from a simple web site to a complex trading platform. Technologies are web and mobile. All sizes and all durations, from a one day job to a never ending one. Industry as above, sports betting and gaming. Individual delivery teams are normally from 5 to 12 people, more than one team can work on the same product.

Q3: Was this one team among many in the company?

We started with one team, when we saw it worked we adopted it to one department, then to the whole company. Experiment, measure, learn.

Q4: Was it working on a mission critical product?

Yes. And now on every product.

Q5: When stories were chosen, how’d that process actually work? When stories were sliced, how’d that process actually work?

Defining a meaningful vertical slice of value to deliver and breaking down its user stories are challenging exercises that take time and practice to master. Our teams are always improving using good practices and discovering new ones. As you can imagine I can’t explain it to you in 2 lines on this post, but if you are interested I believe that in a couple of months I can get one of your teams going. My special fee for you is $850/hr expenses excluded.

Q6: Did you forecast completion dates at all or keep slicing and delivering chunk by chunk?

We try to educate our business partners that it is not about scope, time and budget, but about delivering products that matter. Scope is meaningless, we try to talk in terms of customer value discovery.

To facilitate the conversations with our partners we also show trends that can be used as forecast.


66 thoughts on “#NoEstimates episode 2 – THE ANSWERS

  1. Sharing content that manipulates the words found in standard project management then relabeling those words as #Noestimates does draw comments from those interested in discovering what you are actually telling people.

    It would be unfathomable that those paying for your work have no interest in knowing how much it will cost to the produce the value they are paying you for and when that value will arrive.

    You’ve relabeled standard approaches to decomposing the work into smaller chunks, normalizing the work effort, performing the work to calibrate duration of that work and using that to “forecast” (your words) when that value can be delivered – and then calling that Not Estimating with the #Noestimates tag
    The process you’re describing is found through all GOOD project management of SW development. Add Agile to that to allow those paying to prioritize and prioritize the delivery of those chunks of work and you’ll be about the find that same process in Enterprise IT throughout the world in shops that have adapted good agile practices – and then relabel that Not Estimates.

    Showing trends of work delivered versus work forecast is also standard Agile, but when you say “We try to educate our business partners that it is not about scope, time and budget, but about delivering products that matter. Scope is meaningless, we try to talk in terms of customer value discovery.” you simply redefine the terms scope, time, and budget.

    No value can be determined without the cost to achieve that value and the time of arrival of that value. I’m assuming those paying you are successful business people and have become successful using standard business practices of managerial finance and microeconomics of decisions making.
    You’ve simply redefined those terms to suite your message of “I’m doing #Noestimates”

    And then you act surprise when people call out your redefinition processes under the disguise #Noestimates

  2. Hi! Thanks for a bit more details.

    Though I’m a bit confused, the post puzzles me.

    In Q1 you have a bit strange definition of how what estimation is. But never mind. You say that you save time by breaking things down. But in Q5 you say that it takes time to master. It sounds a bit contradictory in my ears. Do you have any data how much time you actually save?
    In my experience breaking things down is always worthwhile, but I wouldn’t say that we save time doing it. I’d say that estimating *without* breaking things down is actually quicker. YMMV. But wonder if you have data?

    The interesting stuff is in Q5. But you seem to want to be payed to bring out the details there 😉

    In Q6 you’re doing some vocabulary gymnastics to avoid a word 🙂 That is estimating.
    And you write it like there exists some dichotomy where there is none. A bit too binary thinking for my taste; scope isn’t meaningless – scope matters. Because: “customer value discovery”. (there are a lot of details missing behind those words as well).

    • This is the crux of the NE approach. Take standard PRINCIPLES – decompose the work until it’s natural variance (aleatory uncertainty) is acceptability small – and call that NOT Estimating. While in fact this is standard Basis of Estimate principles everywhere else where a mature org does estimating – see http://www.software-quality-assurance.org/cmmi-project-planning.html and SP2.1 as a start.

      Then with this redefined practice ignore the principles on which it is based and call that Not Estimating.

      It’s more than gymnastics, its manipulation of terms for avoiding the simple fact that slicing is estimating everywhere in SW development management except in the examples provided by the No Estimates advocates.

    • To be able to slice user stories in a meaningful way takes time, because it is an acquired skill. The advantages of being able to slice a user story down outweigh the effort.

      Learning a programming language requires time and practice, the benefits of being able to use a programming language outweigh the time spent in learning.

      If I don’t estimate, it’s quite clear what activity I don’t perform, are you still asking me how I save time?

      As per Q5, considering the attention and love that you are giving to my work, I’ll grant you a discounted rate of $849/hr, in alternative you can always research and practice by yourself and find out.

      On scope, let’s agree to disagree

      • No, I’m asking why in the No Estimates paradigm, slicing is not considered estimating.
        I know all the advantages of slicing – it’s a principle of building a Basis of Estimate from the WBS.
        Why is slicing not considered estimating in your domain?

  3. Thank you for providing this excellent blog post. There is some noisy oppsition against noestimates out there, and I want to express my support for what you do. Keep it up! 🙂

    • That opposition is based on violation of microeconomic and managerial finance principles by NoEstimates.

      It appears those conjecturing decisions can be made in the presence of uncertainty – which pervades all project and business activities – without estimating the impacts of those decisions have yet to provide any actual evidence to support their conjecture. Evidence in the form of principles, practices, or processes that can be tested outside their personal anecdotes.

      • There is A MASSIVE amount of information available on how to work in the NoEstimates style. Principles, practices, and processes.

        Now, you tell us what of that you have tried in practice, and then we can have a discussion about it.

        You know, there could be other “microeconomic and managerial finance principles” than yours that actually work…

        • Massive, hardly. All anecdotal, all untested outside of personal experience, all in violation of principles of Microeconomics of Decision making in the presence of uncertainty.

          You may want to “explore” the principles of decision making with microeconomics http://smartorg.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Decision-Analysis-for-the-Professional.pdf

          These are not MY principles. These are general finance and accounting principles. Please do your homework before conjecturing this is about MY point of view.

          • I take it that you haven’t tried NE since you’re not telling me about your experiences of it, the only thing I asked about. For a person writing hundreds of blog posts opposing NE that seems a bit odd. A bit like “not doing your homework”…

          • Your question…

            “Do you think that your principles of managerial finance will never change? Do you think that they were created by God and are there to be respected by law? Do you believe in evolutionary change?”

            Begs a bigger question – are you familiar with finance and cost accounting in governance based businesses?

            It looks like from your LI profile you’re a testing/QA engineer – a critical role on all projects – bit not one on the business and finance side of the project to govern the spend of the customers money.

            So the answer to your question is NO, not unless your the sovereign or professional organization responsible for defining the sovereign’s Generally Accepted Account Processes (in US) or equivalent rule making orgainzaitoin in your nation.

            And if you are suggesting those finance and accounting rules are “fluid” and changeable by those spending other peoples money, you may want to check that out with the CFO of the firm you work for that is providing the money.

        • So a thought on the Massive amount of information.

          That information is anecdotal, with basis in principles.

          As a software development business manager, having been a software engineer for 3 decades as well, you will find little interest in the business side of writing software for money, in NOT having knowledge about how much the resulting code will cost, when it will be done, and some assurance that the needed Capabilities and their Features will be delivered for that cost and time line.

          This “knowledge” of course is Always probabilistic in nature. “On or before a date,” “At of Below at cost,” and “with this confidence we can provide that.”

          So the open question is two fold:

          (1) In what business domain is this probabilistic knowledge NOT needed to manage the spending of other peoples money?
          (2) If this probabilistic knowledge is needed, how can it be provided in the absence of estimating in the presence of the uncertainties that are presence for all the elements of the project? People, Processes, and the Tools they use to produce the requested value in exchange for the requested money?

          These two questions have so far never been answered in any testable way outside of personal anecdotes of “I know a guy who doesn’t use estimates.”

          BTW Slicing is estimating.

          • From your Twitter account you seem to be involved in the F-22? Please remind me, how did that project come in compared to budget? And features?

            I have been involved in a part of the JAS 39 Gripen software. We used XP in the project I worked in. Our estimates were mostly useless. But we still delivered features and improvements every couple of months, to the actual airplanes, and it was always the most important ones. Now, how is that possible?

          • And what was your role in the Gripen software development effort? You have budgetary accountability for showing up on time? You have any Earned Value Management obligations.

            Gripen has EVM applied https://www.nao.org.uk/defencevfm/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2013/03/sweden_gripen_2.pdf

            You had to have made estimates to establish the Performance Measurement Baseline

            If you’re a PMI member here’s how EVM as applied to the Gripen http://www.pmi.org/learning/evm-sweden-experiences-examples-133

            So what ever you did there may have been “below” the line where estimates were mandated for the work in compliance with the governments processes.

            Could you provide some understanding of what software you worked on, how it was funded and how progress to plan was reported.

            We use Scrum on our defense contracts “below the line” where WBS elements in the form of Capabilities are flowed to the Product Backlog on a Cadence Release. Then Features and Stories assigned to Sprints inside those Cadence Releases in support of the Product Roadmap – all within an EIA-748-C governance process. Sven – who managed that – speaks at conferences here in the US for our DOD – So I’m very familiar with integrating Agile and program controls. Including writing of policies for integrating agile with EVM here.

            But I can guarantee some one somewhere at Saab was making estimates for the work you were doing. Maybe no you but someone was. It’s baked into the procurement process of all defense organizations. Here’s another of Sven’s conference presentations http://evmlibrary.org/library/PS0501%20EVM%20in%20Action,%20Antvik.pdf

            So could you speak a bit to what your role was and how you were able to do your SWDev work on that program without providing ETC and EAC for the EVM based acquisition process used by government?

            We’re working on methods to integrate EVM with Agile, and if you produced the software on time, on budget (somehow defining how much budget was needed) without making estimates of the duration or cost, they are senior executive in the US DOD that would like to hear about your success.

          • Maybe your advanced methods, let be mandated by regulation, doesn’t work for you and you should seek advice elsewhere? Maybe, just maybe, that is most of your methods are abandoned by practically the entire private industry where business owners spend their own money (instead of tax money which there always is more of)? If you would seriously consider that in your spare time instead of going after the very people that are there to help you, for FREE, now that would be great.

            Good for you that you are working on doing agile. In Gripen, we were probably the only agile team at the time, and it was sw development I did. But we learned stuff. There’s a difference between doing and being agile. Because being agile is when you challenge everything and try to learn from your own and others success and failure, instead of bashing them with your beliefs.
            So NE is not for you? Good. Now go away an let us talk NE.

      • So Daniel, from your response can I assume you’re not on the business and finance side of the equation?

        As well the notion “just try it,” is what XP used back in it’s first days. “Just try it,” is a acceptable approach to spending money when it’s your money. No one cares.

        When it’s not your money “let’s just try it” usually means the project is de minimis. If that’s your domain – no problem.

        But suggesting to other – the NE critics – to “just try it” is an echo of XP’ers circa 2001 when they came to major corporations here in Denver gave a talk with those phrases and go booed off the stage.

        • DoubleDuce:
          Getting booed off a stage is not proof that something doesn’t work, nor that they were wrong. Everything new needs to be tried at some point. Even the stuff you do was new at some point (I guess…). Maybe you shouldn’t start trying new things in the most complex environments, but stating that something doesn’t work based on that it hasn’t been done, or can’t be done due to regulations, is no proof either.

          • It was an indication that the speaker – original XP author – was disconnected from the business side of software development of the host for his talk (an ACM Section meeting).

            This is similar to the current #NoEstimates conversation, I know of no business manager – and I’m one – that does not have a fiduciary obligation to know – to some level of confidence – how much the project will cost, when it will be done, and the probability that the needed Capabilities produced in exchange for that cost will be delivered as planned.

            In this context – the business of developing software using other people’s money – having this knowledge – estimates of cost, schedule, and technical performance – is the basis of managerial finance.

            The burden is on you to show that the suggested approach doesn’t violate established principles of business, not me to show why it doesn’t work. You’re using the Burden of Proof Fallacy https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof

            Or worse to “just try it,” using my customer’s money where it is Crystal Clear that not having a probabilistic estimate of cost, schedule, and technical outcomes is part of the Governance Process in the business domain.

            This has a broad range, but I know of no business governance processes that involves spending non-trivial amounts of other peoples money that isn’t guided by some governance process. This can range from simple General Accounting rules all the way to ITIL, COBIT, ISO 12209 and the like.

            But if you aren’t in that governance paradigm, suggesting that those who are should “just try it” is a non-starter. This was the example 15 years ago when XP first “came to town. For example a bit closer to your home, https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/governance_agile_delivery.pdf for the UK or https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:824614/FULLTEXT01.pdf and http://www.intosaiitaudit.org/intoit_articles/26_p30top35.pdf for Sweden.

            Notice in the latter, on page 32 “. In addition, investment decisions were not always based on clear descriptions of the proposal’s expected business benefits and implementation risks. Furthermore, proposals setting out the comparative costs, risks, and effects of alternative approaches to IT investment projects were not adequately dealt with, nor were proposals clearly linked to each other.” To correct those deficiencies, estimating needs to be in place, since the outcomes are in the future.

            Now, if you’re not working in a Governance based business, you’re free to do anything you wish with you customers (and maybe your own) money. But to suggest that #NoEstimates is applicable outside that sole-contributor – non-governance – domain will elicit criticism that must be addressed if any conversation is to continue.

            Our governance processes did not prevent XP from being used. Instead it was adapted to our governance process http://www.slideshare.net/galleman/agile-evms and http://www.slideshare.net/galleman/agile-project-management-methods-for-erp http://www.slideshare.net/galleman/using-balanced-scorecard-to-build-a-project-focused-org-no-logo and many others over the years.

            When it is suggested by the #Noestimates advocates that we ignore – willfully ignore I’d say – core business principles this results in challenging the idea on Principles Alone. And when challenges are labeled as “you don’t understand,” or “just try it,” that indicates a lack of understanding of the business aspects of software development when spending other peoples money.

            You’ve suggest that “we need to try it instead of stating it doesn’t work,” isn’t necessary when the suggestion clearly violates core principles of business management. This was similar to the XP suggestion in the regulated telecom environments of the early 2000’s.

            It appears #NoEstimates is on the same path. Asking skeptics to spend their customers money to simply confirm that “Making decisions without estimating ignores core business processes.”

          • DoubleDuce:
            The burden is actually on You to motivate that estimates are necessary. Not doing something does not need motivating – it is the natural order of things. So far your “proof” is “regulations force us to do estimates”.
            As I have stated I understand that you are required to do estimates, but that is not proof that it is actually needed except for fulfilling that requirement.

            Further, I didn’t say we did NoEstimates. I said we did XP (this was 10 years ago, and I don’t have individual assignments on my LinkedIn profile), and I said the estimates were useless. There is learning involved in that. Learning that I feedback into the way I do business. I recommend that learning approach above all others.

            15 years ago you booed the XP-originators off the stage. Then you started doing XP/Agile. Now you try to boo the NE guys off the stage. Given your track record I foresee that in 15 years you’ll be doing NE.

  4. BTW, I’m assembling all the Blog posts I made over the past 3 years on Estimating and the issues with #Noestimates. So far up to a couple hundred.

    So how about this – on what principles can #Noestimates provide decision making support in the presence of uncertainty?

    Slicing is estimating, no matter how many times it’s stated it’s not.

    Other than that, there are no other testable suggestion. By testable means – some statement that can be tested against a principles outside personal anecdote – anecdotes uninformed by principles BTW.

    If there are any principle based processes, let’s hear them.

    • I am happy you are doing your research, and I applaud that. What I ask is a bit of open mindedness and the acceptance that the world is big and there might be people that could be right even if their theories don’t go by the conventional microeconomics laws.

      • Augusto, It’s not Research, it GAAP, FASB 86
        When people make conjecture of ways of spending other peoples money that are in conflict with GAAP, FASB, Managerial Finance governance of nearly every national on the planet – they need to be addressed.

        So you’re suggesting that “theories” that violate principles of managerial finance should go unchallenged?

        Sounds like a formula for chaos and loss of credibility with those paying for their work.

  5. Daniel,
    I know business managers on Gripen, Sven Antivik, an I can guarantee estimates are made for delivery of software. You may have been below that business level, I can understand.
    And comment about F-22 seems to suggest you are not connected to the business side. Without the Root Cause of cost overruns you have ZERO ability to conjecture that “not estimating will fix anything.

    BTW I see no Gripen experience in your LI profile. When did you work that program, what was your role? Were you accountable for cost and schedule performance. Yes Gripen used XP, as most flight avionics systems use Scrum here in the states. But estimate to complete and estimates at completion are still mandated by the program planning and controls system used by Saab.

    There were estimates, perhaps you were unaware of them. Find Sven and ask if the business managers on Gripen could spend the governments money without ETC/EAC?

    • Daniel,
      For the likes of me I’ve goggled every thing I can find on the Gripen and all the articles talk about “agile” as one the program success factors. And lots from our own DOD Root Cause Analysis firms speaking to the need to adopt the Agile techniques used by Saab. This of course is a primer example of how we do thing poorly in our acquisition process compared to the Gripen.

      But I can’t find anything that mentions that estimate to complete and estimate at completion were not provided during all the Agile processes, since the Gripen used full up earned value management.

      Can you provide some background on how you as a developer on the Gripen operated without producing ETC/EAC and at the same time maintained compliance with the EVM System and the forecasting processes needed for ETC/EAC.

      I’ll send a note to my professional colleague that worked that program as well to ask him the same question. Everyone from Jeff Sutherland to the Minister of Defense speaks about the Agile aspects.

  6. So here’s an anecdote that I would like to share. I ran a government project with NE a couple of years ago.

    I was asked to help deliver a new system to a group of users at The swedish Post and Telecom Authority. I was working at the agency myself as an enterprise architect.

    First of all we established how much money we could spend. How much was it worth to replace the old system. I suppose that the discussion could have been way much more complicated than it was, but in this case I got an answer in about a minute from the head of the department.

    So I assembled a team. And we spent a week together with our user. Doing their work together with them, and began to understand the problem we had to solve. Following Monday we began to work on the single most important aspect of the system. On Wednesday we presented the first idea. The feature was working but was very unpolished and only the fundamentals. But it was enough to
    Get feedback from our users
    Start building trust with our users. We were already showing results.

    And then we kept this up. We had something new to show almost everyday. And to be able to do this, we had to scale-down and we had to slice. Is this estimating?

    This is how it went down:
    “Ok, so this is the next important feature. What’s the essence of this feature and how can we have something to show as soon as possible? Can we make it smaller?”

    And I suppose that one could consider “Ok we have feature A. Let us remove and slice so we get something as small and easy as possible” to be estimation. But I believe it to be more of a design question rather than estimation. We never cared about hours, day, story points or whatever. And we most certainly never had to or wanted to communicate this to either users or stakeholders.

    Users and stakeholders didn’t care, because they got to see new results almost daily. They trusted us. And we saw no benefit in giving or doing estimates because if we would fail, we would lose trust.

    So this went on for a couple of months. When we approached the “end of money”-date, we deployed the system. We had some small stuff left to do, and to be able to deal with that we had the same approach again. We figured that it was ok to spend money on one more week of development, made a small prioritized backlog and when that week was over, most of the issues were done. It was a small decision with no real risk, so it was easy to make even without estimates.

    I was on the business side, I was working for the government, I was accountable and it was I who wanted to do the project in this fashion. It was easy to convince users and stakeholders because they saw results from the first week and they had the power to call off the project at any given time.

    But yes, this is an anecdote, and there is no report written about the project. The reason for that is because since I was spending someone else’s money, I only cared about doing things that created actual value for the users. We delivered the system that they wanted.

    • That’s an inspiring story John. We try to play the same way and knowing that somebody else has succeeded gives us even more determination to continue, thanks for sharing.
      I think your story needs more exposure and would make a great blog post, why don’t you publish it?

    • Just for some calibration..

      1. This project have a deadline?
      2. How about mandatory capabilities?
      3. A not exceed budget?
      4. When you say Government, which agency
      5. What was the “value at risk” for this project?
      6. Any governance framework for reporting progress to plan, estimate to complete, estimate at completion?
      7. Any uncertainties in the project – natural variances of work? Probabilistic events that would have impacted your progress to plan?
      8. Any externalities from subcontractors, facilities, technologies?

      If there were none of these, then sounds like a perfect project to not estimate.

      • Here’s for calibration.

        1. The deadline was “As soon as possible” since the project had been on ice for a few years after prior failure of grasping the user’s need.

        2. Yes the system most definitely had mandatory capabilities. We identified them and made them high prio.

        3. No we did not exceed budget. It was a close call but since we kept track of the budget and continuously delivered we just stopped when we got close. And left a buffer for further adjustments and “bug fixing”. I can’t really remember any exact figures but I remember that it was important to me to not exceed budget. It was a matter of pride I’m afraid. And also, it wasn’t my money.

        4. It’s stated in my post. The Post and Telecom Authority.

        5. The old system was falling apart. So the risk was quite big since the “business” was dictated by law. Our users had to be able to do their work.

        6. Yes, we had our project plans, goals etc. I gave them all the information I could, but I never speculated and I never guessed. When they asked for it I usually answered that I don’t know but since we’re planning to deliver often and do the most important things first, no guessing would improve that. They believed me.

        7. Not really I suppose. We got a quite clear idea of what we had to do when we spent a week together with our users. And the system was, at least during development, rather isolated. I think we only had to integrate it with one other system. This was not by chance, but because we chose to isolate it. We could have opted for integrating it to a few other systems. But after a few discussions we figured that we didn’t have to and wouldn’t get much value from doing it. So we made as simple as we could while still providing a system that was good enough.

        8. The only subcontractors where the actual team. All team members where consultants.

        I thank you for your questions and your interest but I see no value and have no time for discussing estimation in this format. Please feel free to ask me out for lunch and continue whenever you are in Stockholm.

    • Sorry if I don’t go Hallelujah! here 🙂

      But “First of all we established how much money we could spend.” And you did no estimation you said? Sorry for laughing a bit at that statement, but how did you come up with this amount? Haruspicy? Tasseography? 😉
      Please don’t redefine the word estimate.

      My point; Estimates are natural, ubiquitous, unavoidable and even healthy.

      And to continue, it’s not a very wise idea to not track progress. And to track progress we need a “steering” signal. Even if it felt like you didn’t provide points, hours, days there must surely have been a way on which you tracked progress against that “much money we could spend”. Even if it was implicit. Going implicit could work, no doubt. But I wouldn’t say it’s a preferred approach (for many reasons). But implicit isn’t equal to “it doesn’t exist”. It’s just hidden. And I preferr transparency.

      • Can’t say that I expected a hallelujah.

        As I wrote, I simply asked, how much money is there to spend? And I got a number.
        Since this was prior to me actually meeting the users and understanding the problem I don’t agree on this being an estimate in the way that _I_ consider an estimate (looking at problem, discussing a solution and providing an estimate for that solution). I suppose that if the budget would have been completely wrong we would have had a problem which we’d have to solve.

        But it was wrong to call this a NE-project since we actually made natural and healthy estimates at all given time. I remember this one time when I made an estimate of the position of the door and actually missed and banged my shoulder against the doorpost. So no, we did make estimates. But we called it thinking I suppose.

        My point; What I mean is of course that we did not do the kind of estimates where we look at problem and commit to a time for solving that problem. In which the value of NE for _me_ resides. I don’t want to work with estimates that I consider to be wasteful and even harmful.

        And considering transparency. This is where I’m laughing. I don’t consider it to be more transparent to do estimates and check of progress against those estimates than actually showing working software every day to our users. And also on a daily basis talk about what we’re doing next and what is in the pipe further on.

        I thank you for your interest but I see no value and have no time for discussing estimation in this format. Please feel free to ask me out for lunch and continue whenever you are in Stockholm.

        • As I said, don’t redefine what an estimate is just to be able to say “Look, no estimates”.
          People will always have another view of what an estimate is than yourself. And thus the idea comes off as developers being unwilling or resistant of giving an idea about the size of the work to be done (from a biz perspective) and what is left until public release (those are the main reasons for estimation). I think such mindset damages my profession.
          Hence, having private definitions to fit a hashtag should be questioned. Why the strong need to be able to say “no estimates”? People will not react positively to such binary thinking (those people paying us for the work we do). Perhaps look at #NoPayment as well?

          And examples of poor/bad uses (wasteful/harmful) of a thing is not the reason for abandoning it. Look at how it can be done healthy instead. As the examples you have given above.

          • henebb:
            I understand you and your fellows have a problem with the hash tag #NoEstimates. I think everyone in the NE “camp” agrees it is not an optimal name, but hey, there are just 140 chars available! The name captures about 90% of the gist of it, ie. the 90% of time spent on forced, meaningless, wasteful, or event harmful, estimates.

            You keep complaining about the last 10%, that “you guys do estimates, you just don’t call it that”. As John put it, some of us prefer to call that “thinking”, but ok, I’ll give you that 10%. Are those 10% really worth ranting in every NE item on the internet, to make a point about the semantics of a hash tag and how it isn’t 100% correct? Well, there are a lot of things wrong on the internet if you go for 100%…

            If you still feel frustrated or angry and in need to tell the world how you feel about it, why not write your own blog post about it? You can create your own hash tag for it. I would appreciate that immensly, and I can promise that I will NOT troll or rant in the comment fields of your blogposts. I can even promise that if you tag me on Twitter I will PROMOTE your blog about it, just give me the link.


          • As I sad, my concern here is that it all comes off as developers being unwilling or resistant to give an idea about the size of the work they’re about to do. Call it being willing to commit. I think that damages my profession. I have my own hashtag and blog: http://kodkreator.blogspot.se/2015/03/the-yestimates-hashtag.html
            Asking me to “be quite” will not happen. And asking critics to “go away” is an interesting viewpoint in itself. I’m not angry or frustrated just because of that. Why would you say such thing? I question things. I find that to be healthy. And I do question the idea of “not estimating”. That won’t stop.

            The idea of “no estimates” makes no sense. Estimates are unavoidable in everyday life as well as in biz.
            And it’s not only about the name, its about the mentality and behaviours around it.

            [Gus Evangelisti] When in a comment to a #NoEstimates thread, you state “The idea of “no estimates” makes no sense. Estimates are unavoidable in everyday life as well as in biz.” do you think you are actually demonstrating something? Stating the obvious for us uninitiated? Or is it that you believe repeating it ad infinitum will make it real?

            [commenting within your message as the volume of comments has kind of broken the thread]

          • henebb:
            There are a few things that are remarkable here:

            * There are many more ways you can commit in software development than to put a number on piece of work. So it is not about committing. If developers are unwilling to put such a number on things, that is information that we can process to try to do things differently. To evolve our profession. NoEstimates is one answer to that. It’s working well for a lot of people. Get over it.

            * You’re trying to save our profession by questioning other peoples experiments in trying new things to take our profession to higher levels. Do you have any idea of how we got here in the first place…? You’re actually questioning people that are questioning status quo. Not helping.

            * You are questioning them by interfering every discussion about it, telling people that what they do “makes no sense”. The real-life equivalent is to walk up to every discussion people have that you disagree with and telling people they are wrong. Even if you would be technically correct (I think you’re not), you would be perceived as a rude person. Being told you are interfering and responding with “That won’t stop” is making matters even worse.

            That is not helping our profession. That is not healthy. If anything, that borders to mania.

            Given all this, asking you to leave is not an “interesting viewpoint”, that is just trying to get rid of an unwanted disturbance that adds absolutely no value to the discussion. I can’t tell you this in a more clear and polite way. Either you understand, or you don’t.

          • 1) Putting numbers on things isn’t the main purpose of estimates. I don’t always put numbers on things. Far from it. But, agreeing on what is possible within given constraints and/or giving feedback what the team think is possible etc., is not dysfunctional, it’s healthy.

            2) I haven’t been clear here. I don’t question that people are experimenting or taking our profession to higher levels. I’m questioning simple solutions to complex problems, binary thinking, false dichotomies, Sturgeon’s law etc. I also question the status quo of NoEstimates.
            I see no experimenting in NoEstimates. You can please point me to any experiment that has been performed in the name of NoEstimates; how the experiment was performed, the setup, value at risk, the outcomes, the good, the bad. Nothing have been done here. Just anecdotes. And how would I try “no estimates” or even experiment with it? Should we switch to going by chance?

            3) If people see me as “rude” just because I question their thinking is nothing I can do anything about. That is up to them. The pattern of NoEstimates champs are exactly that: “You troll! Why do you question this.”

            4) If you think I’m close to mania, that is up to you. I’d say you don’t even know me. And aren’t people promoting NoEstimates also close to mania? They write books, talk at conferences, arrange workshops etc. Isn’t that also close to mania?

            5) Questioning/challenge/test an idea is how it evolves, not “adds absolutely no value to the discussion”.
            If you think I add disturbance, that is up to you. I’d say many thinks I add perspective and challenging views as well.

            [Gus Evangelisti] You say “I see no experimenting in NoEstimates. You can please point me to any experiment that has been performed in the name of NoEstimates; how the experiment was performed, the setup, value at risk, the outcomes, the good, the bad.”

            Do you know what an experiment is? My first attempt to adopt #NoEstimates was an experiment. All the subsequent changes I made to my initial attempt are experiments. I use experiments for a living I am a lean coach. Are my experiments “anecdotes” because I don’t publish the results in a scientific paper? I don’t care, as long as through experimentation I can help my organisation evolve using the scientific method. I published what I called an experience report based on my experiments, if you want to call it an anecdote, forgive my French but at this point I don’t give a rat’s arse.

          • 1) Go read what people actually mean by NoEstimates. You obviously know there is material, as you describe in point 4)

            2) Sometimes complex problems have a simple solution. Further, you state in 4) that people “write books, talk at conferences, arrange workshops etc”. In addition, they write blogposts. If you’d try to actually comprehend that information, instead of just ranting over it, you’d know what to do.
            You don’t have to do it, but don’t say there is no information, or any experimenting, because that is not true.
            If you need to have information packaged in an exact way, or else you can’t use it, that would indicate that you are unfit for conducting experiments anyway. The results of experiments are NEVER packaged in an exact way. I don’t think you are unfit for the task, but you sure try to make it look that way.

            3) Questioning things is one thing. That is not what you get criticized for. I made that pretty clear in my last replies. You should actually read them.

            4) No, people trying things and presenting the results in different ways are not being manic. They are working. There is a difference.

            5) There are different ways you can challenge an idea.
            Not trying to understand what is actually discussed and then have opinions adds no value.
            Entering every discussion and saying “it makes no sense” “without even trying it adds no value.

            If people actually call you a troll(!!!) that is reason for self-reflection! It’s not a ticket that you are challenging an idea! It’s not that you are right! It is just that people are fed up with your behaviour!!!

            First I was angry at your behaviour, but now I just feel sorry for you. 😦
            You really don’t understand.

          • 1) I’ve read almost everything about this topic. I have a good view of the material.

            2) True. But not what I see in NoEstimates. There are well known ways of conducting experiments. Again, point me to these experiments that have been performed.

            3) I’ve read them. I get questioned for being rude etc. I know I’m not, so I don’t take that to me at all.

            4) Again, link me to these results (not just evangelistic posts and personal anecdotes).

            5) I counter you to actually read what I say. I don’t enter every discussion by saying “it makes no sense”, I present arguments. *One* of them is that I think it doesn’t make sense. I might evaluate that opinion.

            6) “Troll!” is not a constructive feedback. It’s ad-hominen. I’d take *constructive* feedback to me and self-reflect. Simply stating that people are fed up with my behavior isn’t constructive either.

  7. You don’t take constructive feedback! I gave it to you:
    * You are questioning them by interfering every discussion about it, telling people that what they do “makes no sense”. The real-life equivalent is to walk up to every discussion people have that you disagree with and telling people they are wrong. Even if you would be technically correct (I think you’re not), you would be perceived as a rude person. Being told you are interfering and responding with “That won’t stop” is making matters even worse.
    In stark contrast to my feedback on your behaviour (not person) you just defined yourself as not being rude in 3). That is NOT how you take constructive feedback. Your level of self-deception is remarkable.

    Of course you can keep redefining terms, live a happy life, and think you won, but people reading your posts will think you’re a troll.

    Entering this discussion I thought you were passionate, but now I realize that troll is the only way to descibe you properly. So congratulations, you have actually changed my mind. I hope that was what you wished for.

    I end this discussion here.

    • And you managed to behave just like every other NE champ. Resorting to ad-hominen troll calling. One of the reasons why I abandoned this hashtag (I was once a NE champ myself), I don’t want to be associated with it.

      The redefining is on you. Show me any dictionary definition of an estimate that shows how you can make a decision without it (without going by chance/hope). It doesn’t. That way it (no estimates) doesn’t make sense.

      Regarding feedback, you have a point. But why is it rude to enter a discussion by having an opposing view (and yes, saying that I think something doesn’t make sense is a way of expressing that)?

      – This doesn’t make sense, because nn.
      – Man, you’re rude!
      – ???

      Why this anger? I’m puzzled. I’m reaching out with a hug here.

    • Mr. Brolund’s comments speak for themselves, and are in fact very consistent with other NEers: questions in general are regarded as unacceptable, intrusive, rude. The attitude here is “we’re questioning the status quo; how DARE you question US at all!” Which, as I say, speaks for itself.

      From the very beginning, NE advocates have reacted this way to questions or disagreement. One of the major NE advocates, in my very first exchange with him, informed me I represent the “worst of our industry.” Then came the name-calling: “troll”, “moron”, “box of rocks”, etc. Then came the bots launched by NE to disparage critics, auto-posting to the hashtag as often as six times a day. All of that is smugly defended because, of course, critics are seen as “rude”.

      Somehow NEers are under the illusion that Twitter is their own private discussion forum; disagreement or challenge is unacceptable, rude, and very much justifies the nastiest possible rejoinders and/or tactics.

      Note, by the way, that NE critics posting to the hashtag represents less than 5% of hashtag volume, but is reacted to by NEers as unwarranted, rude, intrusive. One NEer has posted more than 3,700 times in the last 18 months to the hashtag, many of which are “bottled”, repeated tweets that we see over and over. #NoEstimates advocacy is clearly mostly evangelism, not exploration. And dissent is unwelcome, in the extreme.

      I offer all these observations, and data, in the spirit of “sharing free content”, as Mr. Evangelisti proudly boasted about his own evangelistic post.

      In summary, let me quote what I posted to another NEer making similar objections to dissent, back last July:

      “NEers, no matter what the discussion with critics, just “somehow” hear rejection of their ideas whole-cloth, but all that’s really happening are critical, probing questions about the details. Critical questions are how business folks discuss anything: where does it work? What are the specific details and evidence that would help me understand where it works and its applicability elsewhere? What’s the domain? Unfortunately, I’ve learned over time that asking any of these questions of NEers elicits (at best) dodging, or that it simply causes the end of the conversation. And asking them persistently (in the face of non-answers) often results in either a block or in actually getting cursed out (“you monumental goat f*ck” is the most recent example in my personal experience.)

      In any arena, be it technical or political or sociological, my view is that these are key and very disturbing danger signs: resisting or even blocking of questions, and the tolerating of full discussion only among the like-minded.”

      • Howdy Mr. Kretzman, welcome to my blog, I was worried you might have been in an accident or something, in fact it seemed implausible that there was a blog post on #NoEstimates and you were not among the protesters.
        So, I am relieved you are good and well, shall we proceed with what we started?

        You asked me questions, I wrote a post all for you with the answers, do I get a thank you?
        Do you want some more explanations? Can I make you a cup of tea?

      • “You are X because Y (and that’s an opportunity for self-reflection).” is still a judgment, and not constructive feedback (because no suggested way forward). Read Non Violent Communication (http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-A-Language-Life/dp/1892005034)
        Not saying I have failed at this as well. Anyway, the book is well worth a read.
        Basically: “I feel X when you Y, and I’d feel better if you Z” is non-judgmental and constructive, at least a start. Even though Z might not be the actual/final solution.

      • Peter Kretzman:
        We’ve answered every question you’ve had. We’ve met every claim.

        When you “persistently” (your word, I’d call it obnoxiously) come back with the same claims that has already ben refuted, then you are obviously not listening to what we have to say but merely interested in shouting out your OPINION.

        Then we kindly ask you to leave because you are only a disturbance when shouting out your refuted opinion. When you don’t, that is rude.

        When we strongly ask you to leave because you are being rude and destroying the conversation we are having and you still shout out your refuted opinions, then you are acting like internet trolls. The fact that you are very eloquent doesn’t change this.

        Further, you say that we’re under the illusion that Twitter is our own private discussion forum. Wrong!

        We see Twitter as a giant town square with millions of people in it. You have to pay respect to the other people in the square, just as in real life. You can walk around and listen, and that is quite alright.

        But you don’t just walk up to people who are having a discussion and scream in their face that they are wrong! And when asked to leave you don’t just keep screaming!

        It doesn’t even matter if you would be factually correct: You just don’t do that!! In real life you would be shoved away, punched in the face or arrested for stalking.

        In this case of the blog post it is like a free, open session in real life. You don’t barge into an open session and start shouting out your opinion, not listening to the arguments you get back. In real life, security would throw you out!

        Now get a grip of your online life and stop behaving like complete douchebags. I know you can do it. Just think of what is acceptable behaviour in the real world and you’ll be fine.

  8. What are you asking of me and in what way would that make you feel better?
    Right now it feels like you want me to stay away from (online) discussions. I don’t want to do that. We have freedom of speech. Or do you ask me to behave better? You haven’t stated how you think I should behave. I wouldn’t – myself – consider anyone as “rude” or “trolling” for interfering a discussion (online or IRL) by stating opinions and saying that they disagree and think things doesn’t make sense. Thus, I don’t understand why you feel that. Shouting is not OK. But can you point me to where I’ve shouted? And I also feel I’m listening, in what way haven’t I listened? We state the same arguments because NE keeps repeating same arguments (it’s like they don’t listen 🙂 and since they block criticism they actually don’t).

    And BTW I don’t feel safe when you call me douchebag etc. I’d feel better if you could stop those ad hominem and stay at constructive arguments. Thank you.

      • Henebb, what can I do for you? You are my guest here, I care for my guests and want them to feel free to stimulate constructive conversations.

        Do you have anything else to say beyond “The idea of “no estimates” makes no sense. Estimates are unavoidable in everyday life as well as in biz.”?

        If not you might consider going out for a walk, a cycle, get some fresh air, all activities that are healthier than beating a dead horse.



    • henebb:
      I don’t want you to stay away from online discussion. I want you to not crashing them by repeating the same refuted arguments over and over like broken record!

      You asked for advice, and here you go:

      None of your arguments here haven’t already been dealt with, here or previously in e.g. J.B. Rainsbergers post that I linked to.
      ADVICE: Read what people write and incorporate that in your knowledge base. Don’t ask the same thing again.

      If you don’t understand when your argument has been refuted (and yes they have) then
      ADVICE: start listening to when people say your arguments have been refuted, and do not repeat the same argument.

      If you can’t understand when you are being told to be repeating refuted opinions, then
      ADVICE: Stay away from discussing things online. Persisting at this point is the behaviour of a douchebag or a troll.

      If you need to have the same arguments refuted in every discussion online you are incapable of learning new things.
      ADVICE: Stay away from discussing things online. In addition, you might have a condition that you need help for.

      I suggest you work your way through these advices backwards, ie start from the bottom.

      Now you have to do the lifting. Cheers and good luck.

      • Claiming that I might have a condition (and still keep saying that I behave like a douchebag and troll). Though I kindly asked you not to. This is not a convo in good faith. Goodbye.

  9. “I declare that your arguments have been refuted! So you need to stop using them now!”

    This marvelous piece of “logic”, combined with (once again) the outright labeling of people who disagree as “douchebag” and “troll”, speaks for itself. Then, combine it with the petulant shout of “you’re not listening!”

    None of the NE critics’ arguments have been “refuted” in any way; they’ve only been shouted down and called names. I suggest you work your way through the methodical dismantling I did (all of which has gone unanswered by NE) of NE’s arguments, as contained in not only my blog posts, but also the excellent posts of other critics.

    NEers continue the same behavioral patterns, over and over. Good luck with that in business. This will be my last comment in this arena.

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