Not long ago, a team came to me saying that their “estimates are terrible!” This was not the first team that claimed to be having trouble with their estimates. But the difference was that instead of just looking at some particular practices that they hoped would improve, the team invited me to facilitate a retrospective where they could work on improving their estimates.

The retrospective was a real eye-opener for all concerned.

In this session we’ll walk through the drivers that lead up to the session. We’ll discover the use of data (estimate points, actual points, and relative error) to help use really understand what is going on with our estimates. We will understand the cultural dynamic associated with estimation that leads us to the erroneous conclusion that the problem is with our estimates. We’ll work through the specific issues that we identified with this team as to the true root cause of the problem, including the use of the Ball Point game to understand some of the human factors involved. Finally, we’ll work through the process of distributing the learning to the whole organization as a result of what was discovered as well as the feedback and impact this discussion is now having.

Spoiler alert – we found the problem that was causing planning problems had less to do with estimation accuracy and more to do with wishful thinking and over-commitment.

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