Deming's approach to problem solving is based on The System of Profound Knowledge (SOPK). The anti-pattern to SOPK is The System of Profound Ignorance (SOPI).
To obtain a System of Profound Knowledge, we need to start with the four components - appreciation of the system, theory of knowledge, knowledge of variation, and the psychology of the people and process working within the system.
- A solid understanding of each component from a conceptual perspective:
- What is the variation?
- Why do we need to know about it?
- How will these variations favorably or unfavorably impact the outcomes of our work?
- A solid understanding of how each component interacts with the other three, from a conceptual perspective (e.g., how does a theory of knowledge impact how you interpret a system's behavior?)
- A solid understanding of the above as applied to a domain (e.g., software development).
- A solid understanding of the above as applied to a specific organization (e.g., our team).
While knowledge of these understandings are standard for any credible management process of other people's money are needed, there is the inverse of this knowledge in play for the #Noestimates advocates.
The leadership of this notion that decisions can be made in the presence of uncertainty without estimating seem to have missed the core knowledge of the principles of decision making. The opposite of knowledge is ignorance, so the framework of #NoEstimates is an anti-SOPK.
- Lack of Appreciation for the System of business management - business management is a closed loop process to maximize the Value in exchange for the Cost. Estimates of how much is it going to cost to produce the value - which is itself an uncertain outcome means the business must estimate both. Decision Analysis for the Professional is a good place to start for the business.
- Lack of knowledge of Variation - natural variations and event based variations come from uncertainty. These uncertainties are the source of risk. And we have to remember Tim Lister's quote Risk Management is How Adults Manage Projects. No risk management means no uncertainty.
- Lack of a Theory of Knowledge - opinion and gut-feel rule the conversation. There is no incentive to going where the data is.
- Lack of appreciation of the needs of those paying for the work - the suggestion that estimates are waste doesn't define who this is a waste for. It may well be that coders see estimating as a waste. But it's not their money. Want to get paid? We need to know how much your work will cost, in the beginning, and during the work and as we approach the end. This is the Estimate to Complete and Estimate at Completion information needed by the business to make decisions. Waiting till the end of the project to know these is nonsense.