|From Wikipedia Commons|
I've come to believe that EVERYTHING is ten times harder than you think it will be. And twenty times harder than everybody else thinks it will be for you.The second sentence is not really new, either, but it makes everything more interesting. We all know we have trouble estimating how long an unfamiliar job will take. That's because we don't know enough about it. As you dig into a problem, you discover nuances neither you nor anyone else thought about when the job was first proposed. But it's even worse when someone else, who doesn't have to actually do the job, is saying how much effort will be involved. There's just something about not having to do a job that makes the job seem so much easier. Trying to estimate the time a job will take is like only relying on what you see in the rear view mirror of your car before backing up. But when someone who won't be doing the work is estimating the effort of the job, it's more like not even looking in the rear view mirror before backing up. Just put the car in reverse, hit the gas and assume everything will be OK! "People will get out of the way if they need to."
I think we all do this to some extent. None of us put the effort into imagining how hard a job will be if we don't have to do the work. It's more critical when that other person estimating the work is your supervisor. But our opinions can carry weight when we are part of a group of "non-workers" telling the "worker" how much effort we think it will be. Our numbers make it hard for the "worker" to disagree. The group's estimate carries more weight.
No matter how carefully you plan something, there are always hidden aspects to the job. I believe this is called The Iceberg Principle. Most of the iceberg (89%) is below the surface so you can't see it. Just like a new project. My conjecture is that when someone else is deciding the effort a job will take and is not doing the work themselves, that number rises to 94% of the job being hidden for that person. But I have resolved to try to cut down on this. When I am estimating the effort for a job someone else is going to do, I am going to try to imagine how I would do that job. I am going to actually think about the steps that will need to be taken. Maybe others will return the favor.
The image is from Wikipedia Commons. Doesn't look that big, does it?