Saturday, November 12, 2016

Productivity: Audacity and calculated Hubris in Estimation

I started work at Unisys as a summer intern when I was 18.  By the time I was 19, I had moved over to the Natural Language Processing group and was helping to rewrite their core semantic interpretation engine.  I loved it.  We had a big client to whom we had committed a working prototype. Timelines were tight and even though no one asked me to, I came in one weekend to work to ensure we hit that deadline.

The following week I was pulled aside by a Unisys "lifer", who told me to slow down.   He was afraid that management would expect that pace out of the rest of the team.   It was the first time I realized that software estimation, commitments and execution is a game of social dynamics.

In the years since, I feel like I've seen every type of player: sand-baggers, trivializers, hot-shot hackers, nose-grinders, etc.  And in the commitments/estimation game, I've come to value all of those perspectives.  But probably most importantly, I've learned to estimate in context: both social and business.

Estimating in context means assessing the importance of estimate confidence vs. productivity because they are in fact at odds with one another.   Due to the nature of engineering, projects often expand to consume the time they are allotted.   You can always do one more test, one more optimization/refactor, etc. Likewise, if you aim for a mark you are confident you can hit, you will likely not achieve as much as if you fell short of a bar that you set much higher.

To a great extent, audacity drives productivity.  But it is important to recognize that companies need varying levels of audacity at different stages of their evolution. Sometimes companies need more certainty around their estimates.  Other times, a company may sacrifice certainty for productivity.

My natural tendency is for the latter.  At my first "real job" out of college, employees received the book Built to Last.  The concept of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) resonated with me, and I believe companies can effectively employ BHAGs in both strategic and tactical contexts.

"A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines."

— Collins and Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies"

I'm optimistic by nature.  While I try to eliminate that optimism in estimates, I refuse to omit audacity.  And while with that approach I cannot guarantee I'll hit every date, I can guarantee that the team will go further, faster than without such calculated hubris.



jimbovikingo said...

Great article Brian.

Abiya Carol said...

This blog is having the general information. Got a creative work and this is very different one.We have to develop our creativity mind.This blog helps for this. Thank you for this blog. This is very interesting and useful.

AWS Training in Chennai

Shalini said...

Very nice post here and thanks for latest smartphone applications it .I always like and such a super colors of phone for these post.Excellent and very cool idea and great models and different kinds of the more information's.

Digital Marketing Company in India

Anil Gupta said...

The article is nice and its pleasant to read. I have known very important things over here.
Bangalore Web Designing Company, Web Development Company Bangalore

Akshaysri said...

Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Great work admin.Keep update more blog.
Study in Canada Education Consultants in Chennai

Thamizharasi J said...

This is extremely helpful info!! Very good work. It is very interesting to learn and easy to understood. Thank you for giving information. Please let us know and more information get post to link.

Fresher Jobs in Chennai
Fresher Jobs in Delhi
Fresher Jobs in Bangalore
Fresher Jobs in Kolkata

kumar said...

Thanks for the excellent blog post! I actually experienced studying it. You’ll be an excellent writer.I would like to suggest your blog in my friend’s circle. So, please keep on update like this post.
Engineering Colleges in Chennai, ECE Engineering Colleges in Chennai

Prasanth said...

A very well-written post. I read and liked the post and have also bookmarked you. All the best for future endeavors. Getting some solution regarding.
UI Designing Companies in Bangalore, Web Application Development Services in Bangalore

Guhan said...

Thank you for your post. I found your blog more informative and useful.

IOS training in chennai

Shalini said...

This is extremely helpful info!! Very good work. It is very interesting to learn and easy to understood. Thank you for giving information. Please let us know and more information get post to link.

Digital Marketing Company in Chennai

sathya said...

Really nice information here about by choosing with the headlines. We want to make the readers whether it is relevant for their searches or not. They will decide by looking at the headline itself. I agree with your points but i can't understand what's logic behind by including with the number? Why most of the marketers will suggest that one? Is there any important factor within that please convey me.....

MSBI Training in Chennai

Informatica Training in Chennai

Lunameadow said...

This blog is the general information for the feature. You got a good work for these blog.We have a developing our creative content of this mind.Thank you for this blog. This for very interesting and useful.

Oracle Training in Chennai

Philips Huges said...

Wonderful blog.. Thanks for sharing informative Post. Its very useful to me.

Installment loans
Payday loans
Title loans

Aashi siva said...

Great articles, first of all Thanks for writing such lovely Post! Earlier I thought that posts are the only most important thing on any blog. But here at Shoutmeloud I found how important other elements are for your blog.Keep update more posts..
Hadoop Training in Chennai
Dot Net Training in Chennai
Digital Marketing Training in Chennai

Mahalya sree said...

I do trust all of the concepts you’ve presented on your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too brief for newbies. May you please extend them a little from subsequent time?Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks.
Office Interiors in Chennai
Interior Decorators in Chennai

Shalini said...

Interesting blog which attracted me more.Spend a worthful time.keep updating more.
Digital marketing company in Chennai

عبده العمراوى said...

شركة قمة الدقة للخدمات المنزلية
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالاحساء
شركة رش مبيدات بالخبر