What this entry is and is not about This entry talks about estimates in a relatively perfect world. This entry does not talk about problems that teams run into when dealing with estimates in a world where estimates are often misunderstood and where parties try to pile up additional meanings and metrics to estimates. Why talk about estimating at all Estimating work to be done before it is done. Great if you know what the work is.
Someone I worked with once said, "The code didn't demonstrate that I hit a wall, just that I understood a wall existed." This colleague had been using the technique of Test-Driven Design (TDD) to methodically get the codebase up to a point where it could be refactorable and, at the same time, to a point where a problem with the current design decisions could surface. He was happy because now that he was up to that point, the future decisions for the refactors were much more clear.
Spreadsheets Spreadsheets are evil. And do you know why? Because they're too powerful. Here is the sweet spot of spreadsheets: tables of related data on which calculations need to be made. Here is not the sweet spot of spreadsheets: everything else. Single Responsibility Principle Spreadsheet software is so powerful nowadays that you can make visualizations for almost anything. And some people are happy to spend a really long time creating and maintaing those, but I am WAY, WAY lazier than those people are.
Shu Ha Ri comes from the world of Japanese Noh theater, and has been since attached to the world of martial arts and Agile development. Roughly, "shu ha ri" means "learn / detach / transcend". The link has some words about that meaning. I'd like to talk about my particular take on Shu Ha Ri, which came out of a parking-lot conversation with a martial arts teacher friend of mine:
“Life is going to present to you a series of transformations. And the point of education should be to transform you. To teach you how to be transformed so you can ride the waves as they come. But today, the point of education is not education. It’s accreditation. The more accreditation you have, the more money you make. That’s the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. And this instrumental logic comes wrapped in an envelope of fear.