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Who believes in #NoEstimates?

And what kind of #NoEstimates believer are you?

In this video, I explain what #NoEstimates is all about. —
Session by Frédéric Leguédois at MiXiT18 about #NoEstimates —

I recently made a video where I explain the #NoEstimates way of doing.

Doing this video made me introspect on my own point of view about #NoEstimates.

Yet reading comments on the social networks about this video made me realize that while most people agreed mostly with me, we were not all fully aligned on what to do with #NoEstimates.

I shall also mention Frédéric Leguédois who held an amazing talk at MiXiT18 about #NoEstimates… And Frédéric also has a very clear point of view on the matter.

In the end, I determined 3 kinds of #NoEstimates proponents: the Progressive, the Systematic and the Revolutionary.

3 kinds of #NoEstimates proponents: the Progressive, the Systematic and the Revolutionay — Photos by (in respective order) Paul Hanaoka, Dmitry Bayer and Cyrus Chew on Unsplash

Points of view

The Progressive says…

Most projects do not have real business deadlines, and thus can skip estimates entirely. That’s why #NoEstimates is helpful: just don’t bother with useless estimates if you don’t have any business deadline. Just do the work!

The Progressive finds a lot of value in #NoEstimates but is not yet willing to give away estimates in every and all contexts.

The Systematic says…

Having no estimates does not mean you cannot meet deadlines. You have to do the proper measurement, tracking and maths but reliable tools can be used to make sure it is the case — without estimates! So you don’t have any excuse, really. It works, on all projects, in all contexts.

The Systematic makes a really good point in explaining how you can get away with no estimates by using alternate ways to plan and meet deadlines. The Systematic does not demonize deadlines, he just says that it is possible (and better) to meet them without using any estimates at all.

The Revolutionary says…

However you look at it, estimates are bullshit. There is no sane way around it. So just stop doing estimates. It’s killing quality, it’s killing teams, it’s killing businesses. And if you are ever forced to do it anyway, well… Just quit and stop working for this stupid boss. There are plenty of opportunities around. Choose your customers.

The Revolutionay is just fed up with estimates. He sees no sense around it and he can be very vocal about it. His position is not so much about succeeding to work the old way without estimates; it’s about simply stopping to work the old way. Just don’t request stupid deadlines. It’ll take the time it needs.

What does these different points of view tell us?

Each profile tells us an interesting story…

The market is not yet ready to stop estimates

The Progressive tells us that estimates are not going away… yet.

The market is not ready.

I would be happy to completely stop estimating but I will do it in favorable contexts only. In some contexts, the customer believes that estimates are required, and this belief is so ingrained in his mind that I find it easier to refine the use of estimates to get less messy estimates, than to completely stop estimates.

Come on, please learn to do your job!

The Systematic tells us that in order to get away with no estimates, you must be very rigorous in how your track some metrics and then use those metrics.

It all makes sense… Or does it? It is often counter-intuitive for the untrained mind.

Plus it is definitely harder than just going with the magical thinking of estimates.

I’d like to correlate this point of view with the Progressive’s… Is using estimates an easy way out to project management, instead of learning tools that might be harder to learn, but are also for sure counter-intuitive?

Is that a win of the lazy mind?

Estimates are slowly but surely dying

Finally, the Revolutionary sees stopping estimates as growing and inevitable.

Less and less people are using estimates as their main project management tool, and that’s a good thing.

And this actually completely matches the point of view of the Progressive. The big difference is that the Progressive agrees to work with estimates while trying to convince that it would be better with no estimates, while the Revolutionary completely turns down any offer with estimates.

What about you? What’s your take on #NoEstimates?

Do you recognize yourself in one of these 3 profiles?

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