First Confuse Them, And Then Unconfu$e Them
I don’t understand it. I simply don’t understand how some (many?) Scrum coaches and consultants can advocate dumping the words “estimates” and “backlogs” from Scrum.
The word “estimate” appears 9 times in the 16 page Scrum Guide:
- All incomplete Product Backlog Items are re-estimated and put back on the Product Backlog.
- The work done on them depreciates quickly and must be frequently re-estimated.
- Work may be of varying size, or estimated effort.
- Product Backlog items have the attributes of a description, order, estimate and value.
- Product Backlog refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates, and order to items in the Product Backlog
- More precise estimates are made based on the greater clarity and increased detail; the lower the order, the less detail.
- The Development Team is responsible for all estimates.
- ..the people who will perform the work make the final estimate.
- As work is performed or completed, the estimated remaining work is updated
As for the word “backlog“, it appears an astonishing 80 times in the 16 page Scrum Guide.
People who make their living teaching Scrum while insinuating that “estimates/backlogs” aren’t woven into the fabric of Scrum are full of sheet. How in the world could one, as a certified Scrum expert, teach Scrum to software development professionals and not mention “estimates/backlogs”?
Even though I think their ideas (so far) lack actionable substance, I have no problem with revolutionaries who want to jettison the words “estimates/backlogs” from the software development universe. I only have a problem with those who attempt to do so by disingenuously associating their alternatives with Scrum to get attention they wouldn’t otherwise get. Ideas should stand on their own merit.
If you follow these faux-scrummers on Twitter, they’ll either implicitly or explicitly trash estimates/backlogs and then have the audacity to deny it when some asshole (like me) calls them out on it. One of them actually cranked it up a notch by tweeting, without blinking an e-eye, that Scrum was defined before Scrum was defined – even though the second paragraph in the Scrum guide is titled “Definition Of Scrum“. Un-freakin-believable.
Sorry, but I lied in the first sentence of this post. I DO understand why some so-called Scrum advocates would call for the removal of concepts integrally baked into the definition of the Scrum framework. It’s because clever, ambiguous behavior is what defines the consulting industry in general. It’s the primary strategy the industry uses very, very effectively to make you part with your money: first they confuse you, then they’ll un-confuse you if you “hire us for $2K /expert/day“.
…and people wonder why I disdain the consulting industry.
The best book I ever read on the deviousness of the consulting industry was written by a reformed consultant: Matthew Stewart. Perhaps you should read it too: