The #NoEstimates advocates have asked us to see estimates as a smell: an indication of possible decision making dysfunction. It might be useful to explore what's causing the smell.
In the normal business process world, when we encounter a dysfunction, Root Cause Analysis is an approach to discover the cause and effects of the dysfunction.
Since the Primary Effect is described as dysfunction but not stating what this dysfunction is, let's apply RCA in the form of the Apollo Method to the statement of the #NoEstimates advocates.
But first some background on RCA and the Apollo Method.
- Inability to estimate when the project will complete, how much it will cost when complete, and what capabilities will be delivered at completion and along the way that meet the business plan.
- Misuse of estimates.
- Abuse of estimates.
- Cost of estimates not appropriate for the Value at Risk.
It's been suggested that asking 5 Whys is a place to start. It is well understood that simply asking may be necessary but far from sufficient to discover the Root Cause of any dysfunction. Source of the problem with the 5 Whys approach starts with our natural story telling approach to problem solving.
Finding the source of any dysfunction is straightforward:
- For each Primary Effect - in this case Management Dysfunction - ask why
- Just asking why is necessary but not sufficient
- The answer needs to have a connect to the Primary Effect - the dysfunction
- Estimates are hard - without a traceable connection to the dysfunction, suggesting stopping estimates will remove the dysfunction is nonsense. Stopping them has no good reason, other that estimates are hard.
- This is like asking your young child to eat their peas. I don't like them, Why, Because they taste bad, Why, because I don't like them.
- Find a condition from the Event. What has to be in place for the Event to take place?
- Find an action for the Event. What was actually DONE to cause the primary event?
- The only value of knowing if a cause is an action or a condition is that it tells us which
- Connect all these in some form to see the causal linkage between the Action and Conditions and the Primary Event.
- Here's the hard part and where the #NoEstimates advocate fall flat on their face.
- Show evidence that the existence of estimating and resulting estimates (good or bad) are the CAUSE of the dysfunction.
- Then and here's the really hard part in the RCA paradigm - show that the correction action will actually remove the Primary Effect.
- Show that by not estimating the Management Dysfunction is removed.
None is this is in palce for the #NoEstimates conjecture that estimates are the smell of dysfunction.
So unless we have some understanding of the Dysfunction, conjecturing that estimates are the smell and the Not Estimating will remove the dysfunction has little chance of actual success.
No Estimates is a solution looking for a problem to solve. And to date that problem has not been identified, and most importantly the conjecture that Not Estimating fixes the problem has no tangible evidence to confirm it will fix the problem.