Explaining the value of estimation to the team

Before the next release planning of Brasigo and BlogBlogs, I called each team to show them the hour-glass metaphor. The message I wanted them to understand was: estimation gives us predictability, and this is crucial for every business, including ours.

To achieve this, I played the hour-glass estimation game exactly as I did with the product owners. After the third sprint, they correctly estimated the total amount of time needed to pass all the sand from one side to the other. And then I said: “Do you know what we did? Before the end, we know how much time it will be needed to pass all this sand to the other side. This is very similar to release backlog estimation: after a few sprints, we have a very good estimate of when we will finish it! This gives us and our stake holders predictability, and this is crucial to our business!”

Both teams liked this metaphor very much, and they truly understood why we need to estimate, and why we need to take it seriously. Also, I felt that they liked to be with me in a meeting explaining this, and also that they liked the gaming thing. Based on that, and on this recently post that I read, I’m now researching some other kinds of games to play with them. But this is the subject of a future post.

2 Responses to “Explaining the value of estimation to the team”

  1. Dave Nicolette Says:

    If the goal is predictability, can’t this be achieved by observing the trend in velocity over several sprints? Then the predictability is based on empirical observation rather than guesswork (estimation).

    I think this is consistent with the hourglass metaphor you used. The team can judge how much time is takes for the sand to flow through the hourglass because they have observed it happening a couple of times, not because they are getting “better” at estimation.

    • tiagomjorge Says:

      Indeed, this is exactly what we are doing. The purpose of the hour-glass game with the team was just to show them why we need to estimate, and why we need to take it seriously and be consistent, otherwise we could never find this trend in velocity.

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