This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.
Friday, October 31, 2003
Estimates Are Not Commitments -- Earlier this month, in Promises, Predictions, and Planning, I touched on my ongoing theme of the oxymoronic "accurate estimate," and the importance to differentiate between what might happen if one gets lucky with an effort and what could happen if one doesn't. It's necessary to take both into account when making promises and plans. Dale Emery underlines the point...
"The essence of an estimate is expectation. When you give an estimate, you express your expectations about what will happen. Built into each estimate is an element of uncertainty. If you weren't uncertain, you would use a word other than 'estimate.'
"The essence of a commitment is promise. A commitment is a pledge or promise. When you make a commitment, you declare your intention to create some result, and you invite someone (usually another person, but sometimes yourself) to rely on your intention."
Dale goes on to advise clarity of one's request when there might be some confusion between the two. Too often, estimates are treated like commitments, "managed" to assure their accuracy, and in the long term develop a severe case of bloat as the estimator/deliverer endeavors to protect those commitments. What is lost in this situation is the opportunity to think in terms of what one might accomplish (rather than what one commits too) and perhaps manage the situation to actually do so.
You can run a lot faster if you don't feel compelled to cover your ass.
posted by Frank - Permanent Link -