Agile HeresyJanuary 2, 2012
Those who do the work are the best people to estimate what it takes to perform the work. Makes sense. Sounds reasonable. The problem with such a definitive statement is the subjective word “best”. Most of us read “best qualified” into that statement. But what if the “best” person to do the estimation, won’t? Have you ever worked with people on an agile team who don’t want to contribute to the backlog item estimation activity? Sometimes a rigid corporate culture causes people who are, or perceive themselves to be “lower on the food chain” to say little and thereby avoid perceived conflict or anger of a more senior person. Sometimes it’s a cultural behavior. Sometimes fear. Sometimes shyness.
One successful team that I coached found a workable solution. They selected a small sub-team from the more senior people on the team. This sub-team did the estimation for the whole team. It worked well and they have been very successful.
But do you think this is agile heresy? If so, how would you otherwise fix such a situation?
Paraphrasing that old adage: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him estimate.