EVA26, organised by Steve Wake, took place on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th March 2022 at Armourers’ Hall, Moorgate, London.

Our founder, James Lea, presented “The psychology of estimating and planning - working with your team.”

For a video interview with James and a summary of the key points, visit https://youtu.be/qmE-huseZR4?t=7318

Emotions, Plans and Predictions

Last time you gave an estimate, were you:

  • Under pressure?
  • Distracted?
  • Worried your numbers will be used against you?
  • Feeling a lack of support?
  • Unsure what the plan was?

Did the conversation go:

  • ”Who told you?”
  • ”Really?”
  • ”That’s too long”
  • ”That’s not the answer I wanted”
  • ”We’ll take 20 percent off”

The Psychology of Estimating

Uncertainty drives emotions and responses. The team feel this (but may not articulate it). Variable responses drive risk.

How can we enable our teams to experience planning and estimating as a positive, creative, vibrant and rewarding process?

Building Defensible Plans and Estimates

To build robust (even anti-fragile) plans apply:

  • Rigour - Bound your plans carefully - describe the world too
  • Science - quantify and compare - use data science - risk appetite ⇒ delivery methodology
  • Stakeholders - stories with data - articulate outcomes
  • Team - Create a safe space - own it and improve it

Positive Team Culture and Thinking

To enable the team to estimate and plan effectively, we must:

  • Create a safe space - no blame
  • Accept failure
  • Label the unknowns
  • Articulate the consequences
  • Communicate relentlessly
  • Improve

To generate positive thinking, we must:

  • Work through-life
  • Reviews: turn the work of an individual into the work of a team
  • Develop the models
  • The past is a guide to the future
  • Everything is a change
  • Refine

An example of a positive, healthy interaction around estimates!

  • Q. ”This estimate is too high”
  • A. ”Thank you - please show us which formula or source data set is wrong and we will fix it”.

Leadership Choice - Shape the Emotional Response

Project and programme leadership have a choice. They can shape the emotional response by:

  • Create safe spaces
  • Discover and trust the ”laws of motion”
  • Acknowledge and quantify uncertainty
  • Accept change (anti-fragile)
  • Communicate
  • Celebrate!

In the process we can turn fear, apprehension and surprise into trust, anticipation and acceptance.

Combined, these techniques lead to successful estimating and planning with your team.

For the diary, EVA 27

EVA:27 is pencilled in for 12th/13th October 2022 - see you there!