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We need to stop treating estimates as deadlines.

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

Another favourite meme of mine posing a light hearted take on a real business challenge.

How often have you seen this when working with teams?

A stakeholder comes to you, perhaps taps you on the shoulder & asks 'Hey, if you could estimate when this will be complete, when would it be?'

You provide an honest answer, you're keen to demonstrate transparency, and yet the number you give, is then anchored as the deadline.

๐—œ๐˜'๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฒ, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚'๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ถ๐˜.

The term deadline has a history entirely unrelated to business & yet it has become accepted business language. Deadlines for me, don't have much place in an agile world.

There are exceptions & we need to be pragmatic. Regulatory matters, urgent fixes, however these should be the exception, not the rule.

๐—”๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜€

- Encourage teams to provide ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€, ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€.

- Shorten feedback loops with your customers. Regular communication breeds trust and confidence which can erode deadline setting behaviour.

- Rather than use RAG status, consider confidence voting

- Acknowledge & understand that things change that may impact estimates. This is ok

- Seek understanding as to why stakeholders are taking estimates to be gospel, and challenging ourselves to ask 'How can we serve our teams and organisations better' in the pursuit of this.

- Use the agile estimation game to demonstrate the challenges around estimation

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