The planning fallacy

I have mentioned before that suitable tools and techniques for a project or task management are vital to project success, but  I concluded long ago that that psychology plays a bigger part in project success (Or failure ) than many people think.

I have been trying to find a way of systemising project (Or task ) management and have been trying to do that with what I know how to intuitively do.

I suggest that you read Why Plans Fail: Cognitive Bias, Decision Making, and Your Business by Jim Benson.

This helped me start my journey and I found some wonderful takeaways from it.

The good news is that I was right there is a psychological connection and this book introduced me to and started to help me understand something called “the planning fallacy”

“I’ll be there in 5 minutes!”

“I will have that report to you in an hour!”

“We can do the entire project in 24 days!”

You are never there in 5 minutes. The report is always more than an hour. The project always takes longer than 24 days.

These are typical examples of  “the planning fallacy”.

This was identified by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979,

This is is a psychological phenomenon that details an individual’s underestimation of how long something will take to be completed. This occurs irrespective of the individual’s knowledge that past tasks of a similar type that have taken longer.

Not surprisingly this will correlate to late projects, cost overruns and lower than expected benefits from the project or task

Interestingly it only applies to an individual’s tasks, when a others look at those tasks they tend to overestimate how long something will take and underestimate the benefits.

But..not all projects are failing to deliver on time and achieve planned benefits and assuming it is not just down to good (Or blind) luck something (At least sometimes) helps us to overcome this. And if we can understand it then we can turn it into an approach

Read on…..

There are a set of phenomenons called “implementation intentions ”. When applied to tasks and projects I concluded the following

  1. Achieving the desired results requires the person to connect the goal to behaviours and / or tasks. Referred to as “If x then y happens”
  2. If x then y tends to create focus and reduces distractions
  3. That the tasks or behaviours are tangible and within reach (Not crazy “stretch goals”)
  4. The person buys in (Commits)  to those behaviours or tasks


Leave a comment

WP to LinkedIn Auto Publish Powered By :