Tag Archives: planning

#NoEstimates: knowing the difference between an estimate, a forecast and a promise

A few weeks ago I attended a NoEstimates workshop held by Woody Zuill and Vasco Duarte in Helsinki. It has been an intense and fruitful day and here is the main insight I brought back home.

The day was led with a very nice pace, the two speakers showing a very different style in explaining their ideas. Their continuous turnover on stage made the workshop very light to follow though packed-up with contents.

The concepts explained during the workshop resonated a lot with what I have discovered through the years about planning product or software development: an estimate is not a promise and both are not a forecast. The first two are quite unhandy too.

According to Merriam-Webster, an estimate is

an opinion on the nature, character, or quality of something.

forecasting is

to calculate or predict (some future event or condition) usually as a result of study and analysis of available pertinent data predict

while a promise is

a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future

Well, that’s enough to spot a linguistic abuse: we are always asked for an estimate, thus for an opinion, while we are committing to a promise and no one cares enough about forecasting – if any useful at all.

I would recommend this workshop to anyone willing to get out of the big bubble lie “sharp estimation is the key factor for success”.