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1. ( used with a singular or plural verb ) a system of moral
principles: the ethics of a culture.
2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of
human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics;
3. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal
of a confidence.
4. ( usually used with a singular verb ) that branch of philosophy
dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the
rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness
and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.
Cycle of Mistrust
● Estimates become commitments of both scope and
● Trust breaks down when wrong thing is delivered
and/or delivery is late
● Focusing on schedule rather than building right
thing (customer value) increases chances of this
● Estimate-driven projects encourage game playing
● Lambasting people for not hitting estimates
● Measuring/comparing team performance with story
● Pressure for estimated project scope to fit into an
already agreed budget or timeframe
● Not meeting a deadline has negative consequences,
so we tend to be optimistic about our chances if
we're running late
○ "I'll be 5-10 minutes" means 15-20 minutes
● Risk of negative bias where work is undesirable
○ e.g. Old technology, using brittle legacy systems
○ "Nope we can't do that / It's too big / It's
1. empirical method or practice.
2. Philosophy . the doctrine that all knowledge is derived from sense
experience. Compare rationalism ( def 2 ) .
3. undue reliance upon experience, as in medicine; quackery.
4. an empirical conclusion.
1. derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using
scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.
Determinism vs Probabilism
● Software estimates are typically deterministic (not
○ People asked to provide them with estimation
○ Range from complete guesses to educated
● Tend to not consider WIP, cost of delay, etc.
● “Are we on track?” means "Will we get all agreed
features done in time?"
○ Should mean "Will we solve the problem or meet
the goal within budget?"
● New team velocity not stable for >6 weeks, and then
only if good practices used
● Estimates typically a single number or date rather
than a range ⇒ likely to be wrong
● Agile/Scrum etc. strongly promote empirical
process to control risk and deliver right thing in
the desired timeframes or for desired budget
● Agile/Scrum Risk Management:
○ Managing risk of delivering right thing
within constraints rather than risk of not
delivering pre-determined scope on schedule
1. the act or process of emerging.
2. Evolution. the appearance of new properties or species in the
course of development or evolution.
verb (used without object), e·merged, e·merg·ing.
1. to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or
obscurity: a ghost emerging from the grave; a ship emerging from
2. to come up or arise, as a question or difficulty.
3. to come into existence; develop.
4. to rise, as from an inferior or unfortunate state or condition.
Tell me what you want
What you really really want!
But I don’t know!
● Estimates are based on what we think we want
● Being driven by this lessens chances of discovering
what we really, really want (Spice Girl
● Effective Agile is about skilfully managing
emergent requirements, design and architecture to
build the right thing
● Both cost and value emerge as we build and get
feedback from users, market conditions, etc.
● By controlling cost in small drips we can focus on
value, build things in timeboxes, iterate on
solutions and decision making
● Scale up or down accordingly on an initiative with
small fixed, capable x-functional teams
● Deadlines and changing parameters affect our
behaviour throughout project, whether we have
estimated or not
● Why not set our own shorter deadlines without
● Use these as constraints to iterate over solution
Neil Killick, Agile Coach/Trainer
neilkillick.com / agilemelbourne.com
Copyright Neil Killick, Iterative, 2013
neil_killick / #NoEstimates