How Long Will It Take?Feb. 21, 2021
A recipe may say ‘Total cooking time: 45 minutes’. But most recipes don’t include a list of the assumptions they're making:
- That you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go
- That you already know how to blanch the beans, or whip together a Bechamel sauce
- That you’re not cooking anything else simultaneously
- That you don’t need time for cleanup at the end
Chances are high that at least some of these assumptions are false, so by the time you’re finished, 2 hours have elapsed.
Likewise, a project that on the surface seems like a 3-week assignment, may in practice be difficult to complete in 5 weeks. The surprise occurs in part because we don’t realize all the assumptions we’re making with our initial estimate, about what we know, what resources are available, and what will or won’t go wrong.
Sometimes, our best friend in making estimates, and in hitting timelines more consistently, is the recognition of how much we don’t know.
Because recognizing our ignorance enables us to to do something about it.