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Ron Jeffries @RonJeffries
, 15 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
So I was thinking about #noestimates. I'd think we could agree that IF estimates were not needed, we would not use them, because waste. (If not I have something interesting to learn.) And WHEN they're not needed, we'd not use them, I should think?
Now I want to suggest that estimates are /always/ waste. They are not product (I hope) so they are automatically waste. We should want to get rid of them on those grounds.
Now I am somewhat bemused by people actually arguing FOR estimates, rather than saying "well, they are waste, but unfortunately they are often necessary, so we should be good at them". Maybe someone will explain that to me. But that's not my point.
Since they are waste, if they are not necessary, surely we all would like to get rid of them, save only the people whose job it is to produce estimates. Their hands are not clean and we'll ignore them.

Now I want to tell you a story.
On C3, we estimated all stories in days. (After a while, I think we went to points. If we did, I'm sorry now.) And we kept track of how many days / points we got done in an iteration, and next time we planned, we'd add up the points on the desired stories.
We'd sign up for /about/ that many. Sometimes less, if we felt the stories were actually harder than when we estimated, or if someone with special knowledge was away, or if there were all hands meetings, or whatever.
We (usually) had a pretty healthy situation, and so it (usually) went pretty well. If we were a little optimistic, the Yesterday's Weather would adjust it, and if we could identify why we fell short, we'd improve something. It was all pretty good.
Estimation was working pretty well for us, most of the time. The estimates usually didn't go out of the room: we just used them for our own selection of work. It seemed like the thing to do, because we had been taught to do it.
We also had acceptance tests for every story. Every single one.

Had we known the trick, we could have broken our stories down into single acceptance tests, and streamed them in. That would have reduced the variability in story size very substantially.
Variability was already quite low, because we never undertook anything with a very large estimate: we'd split it or spike it. But had we gone to single acceptance test, the variability would have been even smaller, and we could have always just signed up for, say, 10 stories.
We could have eliminated those estimates entirely. Now the purists will say "but you were still estimating" and yeah sit the fuck down. The point is we could remove this active estimation with some mechanical process that looks like counting, not estimating.
It would have reduced waste, reduced time spent estimating, reduced time spent doing arithmetic, reduced time thinking about variability that wasn't needed. Had we thought of it, it would have been a good thing to have done.
Since estimates are always overhead, always waste, every such elimination, if it can be done readily, at lower cost than the original estimation, it SHOULD be done, because we should always reduce waste.
What is the limit of this activity? We should keep eliminating waste, including waste from estimates until there is none. The limit is:


That's why it's a good idea and why it's probably a good hashtag as well.
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