Miracle Worker

One of my favorite movies scenes is in Star Trek III: In Search for Spock. Of course the Enterprise has some mechanical problems. Kirk asks Engineer Scott, “ Scotty, how long will it take to make the repairs.” Scotty replies, “8 weeks Captain, but you don’t have 8 weeks, so I will do it in 2 weeks.” Kirk asks, “Have you always multiplied you repair estimates by a factor of 4.” Scotty eagerly admits, “Of course. How do you think I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?” Scotty overestimates the amount of time it will take to fix the Enterprise and then delivers the project underestimate.

I often thought it would be lucrative to teach people how to become miracle workers.  I could teach people how to inflate their estimates and then deliver early and under budget.  When someone asks, “How did you come up with your estimate?”  Your answer could be something like, “I have 20 years of experience.”  That does not really answer the question, but it  works.  If your client still challenges your estimate then you could respond with something like, “You don’t understand the technology (shake your head and roll your eyes).”  Make sure to  add a few coding words to impress, confuse and intimidate your client.  This should get them to back down.

Read more at www.RebootRethink.Com


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. But… most developers under estimate how long something will take. Ten years ago, there were suggestions about applying factors from 3 to 5 in estimation, and even those sometimes were not enough… I started using some pretty wild factors and weights; like how complex, how risky, has anyone done it before, etc. in my costing.

    I do love the analogy though. I remember getting in trouble on one project I delivered early. Even after jumping through all the hoops; my manager did not want to set a dangerous precedent.

    • Not long ago I worked with a client, that multiplied all estimates by pi (3.14). He told me most people underestimate by a 3 times. He liked pi because any number multiplied by pi seems credible. For example, if the original estimate was 2 hours, then 2 x pi equals 6.28 which seems like such a much better estimate than 6 ( 2 x 3).

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