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A Summary of

The planning fallacy: why we underestimate how long a task will take

by
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
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Systemic Underestimation

  • Often people have overly optimistic performance scenarios which tend for us to underestimate the time something will take
    • Planning fallacy
  • Only 30% of senior thesis students complete their thesis in the time they thought it would take them 
  • The planning fallacy is persistent
    • We do not learn from our past mistakes 

When Planning Fails and Deadlines are Missed

  • The planning fallacy is a culprit in many public projects
    • Big Dig Highway project in Boston went over budget and 10 years longer than expected

The Origins of Planning Fallacy

Three main biases that are responsible  - Optimism bias - A cognitive bias where we are less likely to believe we could encounter a negative event - Motivated reasoning - Emotionally biased reasoning where we create justification for what we want rather than what goes with evidence - Taking the inside view - Focus on the fine details rather than the final result

Five Ways to Avoid the Planning Fallacy

  • Take the outside view
    • Thinking big picture rather than small
  • Define your priorities
  • Question your motivations
  • Perform a pre-mortem
    • Imagine the project has failed and what you can do to revive it if it could be done differently
  • Manage your time
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