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SPaMCAST 448 features our essay on uncertainty. Al Pittampalli said, “uncertainty and complexity produce anxiety we wish to escape.” Dealing with uncertainty is part of nearly everything we do our goal should be to address uncertainty head on.

The second column features Steve Tendon talking about Tame The Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Performance, The TameFlow Approach and Its Application to Scrum and Kanban published J Ross (buy a copy here). We tackle Chapter 18.  

Our third column is the return of Jeremy Berriault and his QA Corner. Jeremy discusses leading in  QA.  Jeremy  blogs at

Re-Read Saturday News

Chapter 10 concludes our re-read of Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World by Brian J. Robertson which was published by Henry Holt and Company in 2015.  This week’s chapter is titled, The Experience of Holacracy. In this chapter, Robertson wraps up most of the loose ends. Next week we will conclude this re-read with some final comments and thoughts. (more…)

Making decisions is exhausting. It involves perception and analysis, and most of all: taking responsibility.
Mental load and the worry cache, Seth Godin, June 15, 2017

In most organizations, software development and maintenance is not a solitary activity.  Even a relatively simple enhancement require the involvement of multiple roles to identify, translate and implement an idea.  Teams are the tool used to effectively gather and coordinate all the needed roles in one place. While it is easy to perceive the team as a monolithic unit, every individual on a team is a decision-making machine.  Each person will have a different tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity which will affect how they make decisions. (more…)

Sign for Sheltering In Place

Sheltering Reduces Uncertainty

“Uncertainty and complexity produce anxiety we wish to escape”. – Al Pittampalli from How to Hold Meetings That Actually End With Decisions (Webinar June 8, 2017)

Much of the process of translating a user story or requirement into something that can be used is as much about managing and removing uncertainty as it is about technical transformation. Agile and legacy development (used in the broadest sense) are littered with techniques to help the team learn and to gather feedback. The techniques can be sorted into three categories: (more…)

Uncertainty is a reflection of human’s ability to think about and then worry about the future.  The future, whether tomorrow or next week generates cognitive dissonance because we are afraid that what will happen will be at odds with our mental model of the future. Budgeting, estimation, and planning are tools to rationalize away uncertainty; however, they have a complicated relationship with uncertainty.  For example, in some scenarios some uncertainty helps to prove the veracity of an expert, and in other scenarios uncertainty can generate cognitive dissonance with the assumption of certainty built into budgeting, estimation, and planning tools organizations use. (more…)

No Uncertainty Here!

Uncertainty has a significant impact on both the business and engineering of software development (in all of its myriad forms).  Wikipedia provides an operational definition of ‘uncertainty’ as, “a situation which involves imperfect and unknown information.” Defining and understanding uncertainty is important because it is a common condition across the entirety of the software development life cycle.  The big BUT that follows the statement that uncertainty is common is that it is often unremarked or ignored, which are rarely useful responses.  Recognizing the uncertainty in any scenario is useful in selling ideas, planning, motivation and in development.  Over the course of the next several articles we will explore uncertainty across the life cycle; however, we begin with some of the sources of uncertainty and why it matters.

There are typically four macro sources of uncertainty: (more…)

Foggy Day

Value at risk can only quantify what you can see.


Value at risk represents the potential impact of risk on the value of a project or portfolio of projects.  Risk is monitored at specific points of the project life cycle.  Monitoring includes an evaluation of the potential cost impact of remediating the risks that have not been fully remediated weighted by the probability of occurrence.  Where the cost impact of risk is above program risk tolerance specific remediation plans will be established to reduce the estimated risk impact.  The value at risk metric provides the team with a tool for prioritizing risks and risk management activities.

Formula: (more…)

I have decided to try a little experiment this year.  I intend to post a picture with a process improvement related comment on a daily basis  I will be interested in your comments and ideas.



As we begin the New Year the possibilities are endless which is just another way of saying the world around us is uncertain.  It is easy to connote uncertainty with risk and risk management.  Trying to mitigate all risks so that world is certain might make your life calm but rather limits the upside!

As you begin 2013 remember uncertainty might not always be your enemy.