The Project Planning Fallacy

Project planning fallacy — what is it?

Ever notice how your boss, your co-workers, yourself, and well, everyone around you, tend to underestimate how long a project takes or costs? Maybe that new video script took a week instead of two days, or the new WordPress site went over budget by $3,000. Those working in creative agencies know this anomaly well, as projects tend to go over budget, not under. These peculiarities aren’t coincidences. Underestimating project times is actually a “thing” and it’s wired in our human nature. Two psychologists — Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky — in 1978 put a name to the phenomenon. It’s called project planning fallacy.

Project planning fallacy centers around the idea of optimism bias. The end goal of creative professionals is always to impress their clients. They want to feel positive about their work so their clients will too. The unconscious need to impress their client takes over, however, and causes them to predict that a project will take less time and less money because that’s what the client wants.

Less time and less money is always better. But, when employees use the “ideal” for project planning instead of the “real”, customers end up disappointed that the agency didn’t keep its promise. 

Take the Sidney Opera House for an example of project planning fallacy. Expected completion date was 1963. Proposed budget was $7 million. A decade after 1963 at the cost of $102 million, the Sidney Opera House opened. Don’t let this be the prototype for project planning in your creative agency. 

Bric eliminates project planning fallacy.

Bric is a software system designed for creative agencies that manages employee time tracking and increases productivity. Using data analytics from timesheets, Bric creates accurate budgets and estimates the length of future projects without bias. Unlike creative professionals, Bric doesn’t succumb to optimism bias. In fact, that’s the complete opposite of Bric’s goal, which is to present data with accuracy, efficiency, and clarity. No more project planning fallacy.

Using a data-centered model like Bric for timesheet analysis maximizes profit and increases employee productivity. Data analysis is key to best practices in the project planning process. Let Bric do it for you.

Left v. Right (sides of the brain, that is).

There is an easy way to explain the importance of Bric in eliminating project planning fallacy. It is this statement: “There are two types of people in the world: left brained and right brained. Those who can do math, and those who can’t.” That statement is a cop-out. 

Regardless, some people buy that it without batting an eye because they’ve heard it so many times. However, it’s not true. It’s disproven by scientists again and again. But the language of left brain/right brain sticks in popular culture despite the countless shining examples of people who are neither “left” or “right” brained.

Like Oliver Sacksa meticulous scientist and an award-winning creative non-fiction writer.

Or Rachel Carlson: a biologist and ecologist able to express her knowledge with poetic prose. 

It’s not that creative professionals can’t do analytics, it’s that

    1. They don’t have time. Creative agencies employee have a hard enough time filling out timesheets, imagine asking them to sort through their old timesheets to create data for future projects. Not going to happen.
    2. They are prone to optimism bias, and thus project planning fallacy. The desire to impress clients goes beyond the conscious level to cause costly underestimates.
    3. They might not enjoy the data work. Oliver Sacks and Rachel Carlson loved all the work they did, that’s why they did it so well. They were never forced by their bosses to do one type of work over another. 

Bric allows you to “get back back to the work you love” not “get back to the work your brain is wired to do.”

A few words to remember.

Project planning fallacy is a real thing backed by psychology. It comes from optimism bias. In creative agencies, project planning fallacy is common. Projects tend to go over budget and take longer than expected, disappointing the client again and again.

Bric eliminates project planning fallacy because Bric’s focus is on data analysis, not on impressing clients with smaller budgets and earlier finish dates. Thus, Bric increases profitability for agencies.

The “left” v. “right” brain dialogue is not a real thing backed by science. It’s a popular culture myth. Don’t listen to it.

Do “get back to the work you love.” Get Bric to focus on what you enjoy