When the group estimated how long it would take to get the book done, the average wound up being two years. But when [Daniel] Kahneman pressed their curriculum leader to compare their team to other teams in similar situations, something a bit concerning happened …. He estimated that 40% of comparable projects failed, and for the teams that did finish, it took about seven years.
Even more concerning was the fact that until Kahneman prompted his colleague, “there was no connection in his mind between his knowledge of the history of other teams and his forecast of our future.” And even after the connection was made, the team didn’t alter their project plans in the slightest.
Eight long years later, the book was complete. It was never used ….
Harvard Business Review Blog, The Hidden Indicators of a Failing Project, Gretchen Gavett, Oct 23, 2013.
Past performance may not be guaranteed when picking a mutual fund, but it is still often the single best estimate for what will most likely happen in the near future on the next project we manage.
Organizations that routinely miss their project deadlines are almost always stuck in a rut of consistently making bad estimates, estimates that are out of step with their demonstrated past performance.
Taking the time to dig up that past history of how our organization or our team has performed is always a worthwhile effort.
Do you know the past performance of your project teams?