To estimate the time it will take to complete a project or task, first estimate how long it should take, then move to the next unit of measure. Thus, a “one hour” project will actually take two days; a “two week” project will take about four months.

Funny, yes, and in my years of designing software and hardware, I found it remarkably accurate.

The truth is, in the real world things are seldom as simple as they ought to be. Not just engineering projects, but politics, relationships, science, you name it.

Back in the 1970’s (yes, I’m old), I developed a touchstone. If people said “the simple way to solve the problems in the Middle East is…” I immediately moved their name to the “not credible” column. Time, I think, has validated the concept.

“Why can’t they just…”
“It would be trivial to add a feature to…”
“People wouldn’t act so stupid if we just…”
“All we have to do is…”

are all introductions to a statement that has a surface gloss of truth, but fails to account for nuance.

Too bad. It would be so nice to have some simple solutions to vexing problems.

—2p

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