Your Estimates are Bad Because…Pt 1.

Another great interview this week provided an insight I had never heard before.

Your estimates are bad, and you’re missing delivery dates because (wait for it….) – they don’t know!

Okay, nothing new there. What WAS new was WHY they don’t know and don’t push back on the business pushing for commitments around uncertainty.

Here’s the pattern the agile coach at a large, successful start-up shared:

  1. The Scrum team rushes to hit an unrealistic delivery date, and throws the code over the wall to production.
  2. There are many production bugs, so the team has to stay late into the night, and over the weekend, to fix them all.
  3. The planned work is still there the next week, so there’s no let-up. And now the team starts to burn out.
  4. The burn out leads to people leaving the company.
  5. The new hires don’t know the system as well, so when they get pressured by the business for an unrealistic date, they aren’t confident enough to push back on the date.
  6. GOTO Step 1….

It’s the steps of #4 and #5 that really got me. And you can see that this now becomes a downward spiral (in systems thinking, it’s a self-reinforcing loop).

Other interviews with successful engineering managers and senior ScrumMasters yielded some great ideas to address the root cause, so be looking for my write-ups on those.

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