A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – The Myopia of Estimates

As I semi-reclined in the dentist’s chair this morning, my dentist told the hygienist a story. Seems his businessman brother-in-law suspected his employees were taking advantage of him by taking entire afternoons off when they had dentist appointments. Since the man had never needed a filling himself, he asked “How long do fillings typically take – all afternoon?” My dentist replied that it’s usually closer to 30 to 90 minutes to fill a tooth, which he said confirmed his brother-in-law’s suspicions that his employees were sandbagging.

“Hold on!”, I interjected, trying not to let my sporty paper bib, the drool escaping from my left lower jaw, or my Sylvester-Stallone-on-a-bender Novocaine drawl detract from my authority. “That’s how long it is for you. We patients usually choose our dentists close to our homes, not work. For an afternoon appointment, we have to drive to where you are (45 minutes to an hour in my case), do the “let’s have you fill out this form again and take a picture of your insurance card” ritual with the ladies in your office, then sit in the waiting room if you’re running late, then sit with you for 30 to 90 minutes of filling(s), then spend more time with the office staff to settle up the co-pay and schedule the next appointment(s), then drive back to office. We’ll be slurring in Novocainian dialect until dinner time, so we can’t call anybody – and the office closes in 20 minutes. Still think taking the afternoon off is unreasonable?”

So keep this story in mind when your Dev team is giving you an estimate of completion. It’s not just the coding time that goes into it.

“Yeah, I didn’t consider that.”, my dentist admitted. Hope he calls his brother-in-law back.

The Myopia of Estimates Part 2

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