"We suck at designing good database schemas." "I can never figure out how to configure the IIS VPN tunneling server." "This Sharepoint Server UI in SP 2012 is so much different than 2007, I can't possibly figure out how to help my customer."
Or, this 401(k) calculation for estimating my retirement is just beyond my ability to comprehend." Or, "I can't possibly figure out how much money I need for my summer vacation with my family on a European trip, with relatives I haven't even met, and hotels and rental cars, train tickets, meals, other expenses, and airline reservations, and all the unknown and may be unknowable stuff. I'm just going to sit here and mope. Yep, that's me, Eeyore, woe is me."
What is it in some software domains that allows well educated, experienced developers to simply give up, walk away, allow themselves the be subjected to Dilbert Bosses? When they'd never talk that way about something they are skilled, experienced, and capable of doing?
It's a repeating theme in the #NoEstimates domain. You'd never hear a Flight Avionics engineer at a major space and defense company here in Denver say "we suck at estimating, we suck at testing, we suck at systems integration." Those engineers are asked all the time to "invent new physics to solve a problem." Or other colleagues literally inventing solutions of complex oil & gas software based process control algorithms. Or other colleagues at a major consulting firms deploying ERP and encountering legacy systems they've never seen or integrated before, saying "we can't figure this out, it's too hard and our managers will take our estimates as commitments, so we're simply not going to estimate our work."
Are we missing the engineering discipline taught in college. Where a probability and statistics class is mandatory for all 4 years to be called an engineer. Or even in the business and finance discipline estimating, using complex approaches - time series analysis, principle component analysis, bayesian statistics - is mandatory to be called a finance major. Or in the sciences in general. I say this from direct experience with our children and their significant others who are in finance, bio-sciences, and mechanical engineering all writing software for money as part of their actual profession.
And this whole notion that somehow writing software is not engineering is simply BS. It is engineering in many business domains. So maybe it's a domain issue. Maybe non-engineering cultures can't figure this out.
Or is it maturity? Many appear to be very mature developers? Or is it culture, not geographic culture, but lack of having experienced a development culture where business and engineering work together to determine risks, corrective actions, increasing maturity of the deliverables development processes that allow for growth in both technical and business capabilities - all using agile by the way.
Everything is Uncertain
Business operates on risk taking. Risk taking is about making decisions in the presence of uncertainty. Uncertainty is about probable outcomes - positive or negative - in the future. To make decisions about uncertain outcomes in the future, we need to estimate those outcomes, the cost to achieve them, and the possible benefits from that cost.
No credible business person fails to understand this.
If they do, they won't be in business for long. It's taught in school - business school. Same for engineering and computer science school.
What is it that brings smart, capable, intelligent people to say "we suck," when the facilities (classes, books, articles, tools, external advisors) for learning how to estimate for the required reasons of making decisions about other peoples money for future outcomes, is the very basis of all business - is at hand, with simple learning and practice. These facilities are also the basis of all learning. "We suck" says "we're not capable of learning."
Are those of the #NoEstimate ilk saying "I can't learn?" or are they saying "I don't want to learn?" Because those providing them the money have a vested interest in knowing how much money is needed to produce that treasured Value they claim to be producing.
Just like learning a programming language. Moving from SP 2007 to SP 2012 (that actually sucks), dealing with cyber security. We don’t say “we suck” and give up. What is actually going on here? Is some portion of the development community become Eeyore?