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Freakonomics Radio

Why Your Projects Are Always Late — and What to Do About It (Ep. 323 Replay)

Apr 27, 2023
0
42:58

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Quick takeaways

  • The planning fallacy, caused by overoptimism and neglecting past experiences, leads to projects consistently going over budget and taking longer than expected, but embracing data and algorithms can help overcome this.
  • The optimism bias, our tendency to anticipate positive outcomes while underestimating challenges, contributes to the planning fallacy, and recognizing and managing this bias is crucial to improving planning and project management.

Deep dives

The Planning Fallacy and Project Management

The planning fallacy refers to the tendency to underestimate the time it will take to complete a project. This phenomenon is prevalent across various fields and activities, from thesis projects to infrastructure mega projects. Researchers have found that people often focus on the specific details of a project and neglect to consider similar projects' past performance. This overoptimism and failure to learn from past experiences lead to projects consistently going over budget and taking longer than expected. However, the solution lies in embracing data and algorithms. Reference class forecasting, which involves using historical data from similar projects, can help adjust estimates and improve accuracy. By tracking and analyzing past project performance, organizations can overcome the planning fallacy and make more realistic and reliable predictions.

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