During the Vietnam Project Management Conference, I had the opportunity to present on the topic of leveraging the agile mindset to counter antipatterns in teams. One of the intriguing questions that emerged from the audience was whether upfront estimation could be considered an antipattern. In this blog article, we will explore the essence of estimations in an agile context, understand the potential antipattern associated with them, and discuss how transparency can help navigate this challenge.
The agile mindset promotes flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability, with a focus on delivering customer value iteratively. Antipatterns, on the other hand, are counterproductive behaviors or practices that hinder team performance and project success. Recognizing and addressing antipatterns is crucial to fostering a productive and efficient team environment.
Estimation plays a vital role in project planning and allocation of people or resources. However, in agile methodologies, the emphasis is on responding to change over following a plan. Traditional estimation practices often promote rigid commitments and create resistance to change. This conflict between estimation and adaptability can lead to an antipattern if not handled carefully.
Treating an estimation as an absolute commitment is where the antipattern arises. When an estimate is considered a binding promise, it restricts the team’s ability to embrace change and respond to new insights. Fixed estimates can stifle creativity, limit innovation, and prevent the team from delivering maximum value.
To avoid falling into the estimation antipattern, transparency becomes a critical factor. Transparency allows the team to maintain open lines of communication with stakeholders and customers, fostering trust and understanding. By treating an estimation as a forecast based on the current understanding of the project scope, teams can navigate the challenges effectively.
When providing estimates, it is essential to emphasize that they are subject to change as new information emerges. Engage stakeholders and customers in an ongoing dialogue about the estimation process, ensuring they understand the uncertainties involved. Clear communication helps manage expectations and encourages a collaborative approach.
Agile methodologies value adaptive planning and continuous learning. As the project progresses, teams gather new insights and acquire a deeper understanding of the work ahead. Encourage the team to embrace these learnings and be open to adjusting estimates accordingly. By embracing change and remaining transparent about shifting estimations, teams can respond effectively to evolving project requirements.
In an agile context, estimations can be conducted iteratively, refining and updating them as new information becomes available. Instead of a one-time estimation, consider a regular cadence of revisiting and reevaluating estimates. This iterative approach allows the team to incorporate feedback, learnings, and changing circumstances, enabling more accurate estimations over time. And if you are proactively transparent to your Stakeholders about any adjustments, you can establish a dialogue instead of a customer – service relationship.
In the world of agile, upfront estimation itself is not an antipattern. However, treating estimates as rigid commitments can hinder the team’s ability to adapt and respond to change. By embracing transparency, fostering open communication, and treating estimations as forecasts subject to change, teams can harness the power of the agile mindset while avoiding the pitfalls of the estimation antipattern. Ultimately, the key lies in continuous learning, iterative planning, and a collaborative approach to deliver exceptional value to stakeholders and customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about leveraging the agile mindset and effectively managing estimations in your teams, our experienced experts are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or workshop tailored to your organization’s needs. Together, we can navigate the challenges, foster a culture of transparency, and achieve outstanding results in your agile projects.
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