3-19 2013 psychic

We like predicting the future.  We predict that our local sports team will win its next game or take the title at the end if the season.  At work we call our predictions forecasts or estimates and we wrap them in as much science as we can.  Unfortunately, many of our estimates are merely guesses, because we really don’t have a set of equations that can accurately predict human behavior.  However we make our estimates anyway.  But once made, our estimate is an anchor that will be a drag on expectations, even as new information comes to light.

To address our need for what passes for certainty while combating the anchor of previously set expectations, we use all sorts of tactics ranging from adding ranges, probabilities, caveats, short feedback loops or even adding big chunks of contingency. All of which makes the process more complicated and even harder to communicate.

We like to predict the future and therefore we are probably not going to stop. Since stopping is not likely, we will need to change how we talk about estimates. Rather than fighting human nature, beginning a dialog about estimation is probably better than giving in and calling in a psychic with a crystal ball.