Overcoming the Planning Fallacy with Agile

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Time management is hard, predicting how much time it will take to accomplish a task is even harder. This second challenge is attributed to the Planning Fallacy, after Daniel Kahnemans and Amoz Tversky’s influential paper on “intuitive prediction” in 1979.

Proposed solutions to overcoming the planning fallacy, by using past similar projects to estimate the amount of time needed, is like the Agile Practice of calculating “Velocity“.

Velocity is a piece of the larger practice of Agile, but simply put is the discipline of tracking past efforts so as to be better able to predict the amount of future work one can do in any given time frame. The Agile movement revolutionized the ways of working within the software development field and is slowly being integrated into other business disciplines in one form or another.

Here are a few resources to learn more about various agile practices and frameworks: Scaled Agile Framework; Agile Alliance; Scrum.org. Also keep an eye out for a future series of posts here diving a bit deeper into Agile and it’s history.

p.s. Shout out to The Comprehensivists for sharing the Quartz article

Air warfare in Silicon Valley

Eric Reis’ The Lean Startup was a New York Times best seller and vaulted Eric Reis from a successful but relatively unknown entrepreneur, to a household name in Silicon Valley and beyond. His book challenged businesses to think less about developing the perfect product before launching and more about delivering a viable product sooner, and rapidly iterating on it until it “crosses the chasm“. His theory centers around the principles of being fast, observing the market, and pivoting quickly to improve the offering. While original in his writing and successful at changing how many thought about product development, he wasn’t nearly the first to change a field with these principles.

In this, Eric Reis is like John Boyd, the legendary USAF Colonel who revolutionized air warfare.

John Boyd’s greatest contributions came after his time as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. Boyd believed that it was speed and maneuverability in air warfare was the key to victory. This belief led to the creation of the Lightweight Fighter program, which, after several iterations, gave birth to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and several other innovative aircraft. His focus on maneuverability went hand-in-hand with his theory-in-practice framework he called the OODA Loop; Observe-Orient-Decide-Act.

Both Eric Reis and John Boyd believed in the importance of speed and the ability to respond quickly in gaining victory. Like most great ideas, theirs were developed with the help of others and on the ideas of those before them. The OODA Loop was developed around the time of another loop that was gaining traction in the manufacturing field, the Deming Cycle. Which at their cores, are all simply variations of Bacon’s Scientific Method.

This idea of winning through action, learning and improving has shown up time and again in various forms because it works. While simple in concept, organizations can struggle to implement it if they don’t commit to building towards speed and being disciplined in its execution. For those who do, however, victory is likely theirs.

To read more on Boyd and the OODA Loop (vastly underappreciated), start here.