Agile Estimation Like My 2013 Reading Project
I have over 20 books that I need to read (re-read) this year… and I just bought about 7 more (in the mail) that will be hitting my doorstep in the next week. Every year I try to read at least 2 books per month. This year, due to my backlog, I pretty much have my entire reading backlog ready for 2013. While I was putting my book-stack together, something occurred to me… how all this reading… while a good plan… might not get done. And, according to previous experience and history, often it’s not. Sounds like a “failed project” correct? You’re absolutely right. Let’s break it down for a second.
- 28 or so books
- All different sizes and lengths
- Different material… but some can be grouped into a “theme”
- The product backlog will change over time (as I add books or even remove book priorities)
- To complete my total reading of at least 24 books (2 per month) for the year
- While the goal is set, I know that priorities will change
Planning and Estimation
Let’s be honest for a moment here:
- I’ve read about 7 of the 28 books or so but I haven’t “recorded” how long it took me to read them (heads down reading)
- The other books, I have no idea how long it’ll take, with interruptions, flights to catch, quiet hotel nights, etc, etc.
- I know I need to move towards the goal, but since the majority of the “work” (reading), I’ve never done before, it would be foolish to “estimate” how long it’ll take for each unit (book) of work.
- I know that I need to just execute. Learn, see how long a book takes, affinity estimate, or compare against other books, inspect, adapt, and review towards the total completion goal.
I know that only through the act of EXECUTION and LEARNING will I truly know or understand my “capacity” for work and ability to complete the work “on time.”
We’re terrible at estimation. You do not “know” because you have never done.
Let me repeat that:
“You do not know (the estimate of anything), because you have not done it (before).”
Consider the massive implications on your work and business:
- The business asks you up front for estimates on work you’ve never done before.
- You take a guess and hope for the best.
What a terrible existence to have!
We cover this a lot in our workshops and classes, but the main point is: We need to have opportunities to execute, learn, and grow. Only through experience will we be able to better give estimates. Find opportunities to execute, try, and learn. If your company doesn’t allow for experimentation, you will never have innovation.
Have a great kaizen 2013 my friends! Learn learn learn!