When we’re asked when something will be done, it’s tempting to answer the question. “It’ll be done on March 32nd” or “it’ll take 182.5 days” or “we need 15 sprints”. It doesn’t matter if that answer is the best-case, average, or worst-case scenario.

The answer is fundamentally wrong because using a single value hides the fact that what we really meant was a distribution of possible dates, durations, or outcomes. The exact value is uncertain. Development may be faster or slower than we thought. What if the tech lead wins the lottery and retires? What if a global pandemic forces us to change the way we work?

While we can’t control any of those factors, we can be mindful of their existence and communicate more clearly. In this talk we will introduce “bet” language, which makes uncertainty and luck an explicit part of the conversation. This mindset helps us accurately assess risks, pick the right risks to embrace, and avoid analysis paralysis. It also helps us learn in an uncertain world, where even if we make good decisions, we may experience bad outcomes (and vice versa!).