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The Robot analogy for understanding 'relative complexity' in Estimation

We were doing some story estimation in one of the teams I work with the other day. There was a debate about the various methods of ‘sizing’ cards which followed a common pattern.
“We should use story points” said one person. “What’s a story point?” Said a relative newcomer, “Is it a measure of time?”. “well, that depends, of course, some people think it should be”
We went on like this for a while, talking about the merits or otherwise of some common techniques, Ideal days, Relative effort, relative complexity etc etc. I’ve certainly used all these measures and more in my time in teams, but I tend to settle on the measure of complexity as a good starting point. I think estimation, as a practice, is not specifically about knowing how ‘long’ something will take (that is important, but not the ONLY thing). Estimation is as much about the discussion that takes place during the activity.
Assume, than, that we’e talked about building shared understandings etc. What I would like to talk about…

The surprise of reverse culture shock. Returning to Australia as a NRA.

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The surprise of reverse culture shock Over the last 15 or so months I’ve blogged extensively on our company intranet (aconex) about what it is like to be an Australian in India. I moved to India 16 months ago with the family to take up a great opportunity to be the Program Director for our Indian Operations. This essentially meant working with the local Engineering team as well as the other teams here.  In December, we returned ‘home’ for a visit for the first time in over 15 months. The kids had been very excited about visiting old haunts and of course Christmas. What surprised me was how quickly we adapt to ‘foreign’ cultures. I watched with amusement and interest as my kids (and us grown ups) had to re-discover Australian culture. There were all these cultural traits we’d forgotten over the last 15 months which led to some interesting interactions and observations. Our ‘home’ in Australia is in Newham, a tiny hamlet, near Hanging Rock (around 70K Northwest of Melbourne, pop: 800). …

Observations on the #noestimates debate

There's a lot of talk in the agile community about #noestimates at the moment. There are the fervent pro-estimators, and the rabid anti-estimators battling it out for the hearts and minds of the agile community. I posted a comment on this blog post by Woody Zuill, but thought, because I rarely post here, that I would reproduce it here for y'all

No estimates seems to me to be a great end goal for teams. Personally, I think estimation sessions serve a purpose far greater than just providing a number on a card for Proj Mgt purposes.
In young teams (Team form age, not team personnel) Estimation is a valuable activity in aligning understanding of the work. Estimation is as much about “This story is too big to work on” to, “Why do you think this is a five and I think it is a one?”.

Once teams have been together for a longer period of time, estimation starts to lose its value, sure. However, like most agile practice, it has it’s place and is a really valuable tool in my opinion. Much li…