The NoEstimates Game (English)

Animated in english by Matthew Philip (ThoughtWorks)


Wondering what NoEstimates means in practice, or why you would want to use NoEstimates? Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz, read Vasco Duarte’s book or simply want to understand how to spend less time estimating and more time delivering working software, while providing your customers with some understanding of predictability. If so, you can play a board game that helps you find out through simulation what — and how much — different factors influence delivery time. You also learn how to move from upfront intuition-based estimates to create a data-based probabilistic forecast that provides a more reliable way to talk about when stuff will be done, while taking less effort to do so. Through simulating real-life occurrences, such as rework, blockers and delays, the game helps you understand how to reduce variation that creates risk in software delivery. It may just be the most fun you have learning something that you can start using as soon as you return to the office!

So that people can learn about NoEstimates, forecasting and sources of variation in software delivery, I created the NoEstimates board game. I have workshopped it at various conferences, and, due to interest, have made it available as a downloadable package under a share-and-share-alike license.

The game is for between four to 50 players and takes between 90 and 120 minutes to play, including the debrief (the workshop, which includes the game, is between two and four hours). The objective is to learn through simulated experience what and how much different factors influence delivery time and understand options for forecasting. In the course of the game and the debrief, participants learn about NoEstimates.

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