Much of the discussion around project management processes, especially around agile, and most especially around the misconceptions of Estimating as espoused by the #NoEstimates advocates, starts with the misuse of reductive reasons based on single factor analysis.
Here's how it goes.
- Single Factor Analysis - is a statistical method used to describe variability among observed, correlated variables in terms of a potentially lower number of unobserved variables called factors.
- The first assessment using SFA is Estimates are the smell of dysfunction. There may be a correlation, but causation has yet to be determined.
- There are others - estimates are evil, estimates are commitments, and similar conjectures around a claim that somehow estimates, the making of estimates, and the use of estimates is somehow - unstated how by the way - are the cause of problems in the software development domain.
- Reductionism - is about connections between phenomena, or theories, "reducing" one to another, usually considered simpler or more basic
- This is seen in the quest to reduce complex issues to simple issues,
- Or worse make the claim that non-simple systems are somehow undesirable and if we only simplified everything the problems we see in our real world systems would somehow be removed.
When we see these two concepts used together we get things like as the cartoon of the Reductionist view of a single concept - If you did it this way, you'd be from 3X to 10X faster.
So here's the problem and the solution. Complex systems are part of the solution to all complex problems. Anyone claim complex problems can be solved with simple systems, needs to have a testable working system, in that complex problem space. I work in a complex problem space - literally space flight, aircraft flight, the ground systems that enable those systems to Fly. As well as biopharma, electric utilities (nuclear and conventional fired), complex enterprise IT systems (dozens to many dozens of interacting systems).
When you hear a simple and many time simple-minded solution to a complex problem - Applying No Estimates will remove the dysfunction on software projects (this is the ontological inverse of the statement estimates are the smell of dysfunction). We can be reminded by H L Menken's quote:
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.