{CJP Insights}Hofstadter’s Law

Humans are generally unskilled at estimating time. Sydney’s Opera House was originally planned in 1957 to be completed in 1963. It didn’t happen that way. 10 years later and at 15 times greater expense than predicted, the magnificent structure was finally completed. As the complexity of projects increases, so too does the failure rate of forecasting .

Properly codified, this problem is known as Hofstadter’s law. In 1979, Scientist Douglas Hofstadter conceived an ironic and recursive rule that everything takes longer than planned. Hofstadter’s Law states, “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law”. It’s akin to Murphy’s Law—” if anything can go wrong, it will.”

Same for recruitment – the position that we expect to close in 1 week, takes 4 weeks and even then maybe we have to ask for another 2 weeks.

In corporate life, plans are never met and just set over ambitious goals. The underlying assumption is that the planner also knows that the plan would be missed, but still it’s used to keep people busy on the treadmill.

One approach is to avoid planning altogether, and just change course as needed based on real-time feedback. Some people advise- “take your best guess as to when you’ll be done, then double it”

What could be your strategies to counter Hofstadter’s Law

 Would love to hear