Andrea’s Axiom Analyzed

During my thirty plus years of military service I noticed that no matter what the job was– and no matter who estimated what it required–they always underestimated how long it would take, how much it would cost, how many people or tools would be required, etc.

Therefore, I developed a scientific rule-of-thumb to better gauge what a given task would demand. “Double the Estimate.” I generally apply it to the most critical factor, usually cost. (This was especially true of projects involving higher headquarters’ or presidential mandates, but also to contractor pledges of performance.)

Humbly, I called it Andrea’s Axiom. I’ve been using it for more than thirty years, and it still applies. If anything, it’s optimistic.

Yesterday afternoon, we spent several hours doing a thirty-minute job: replacing the gate latch on the wooden backyard fence.

Obviously, Andrea’s Axiom failed to forecast my effort. It was a first time effort and old hardware was involved, so I should have doubled the doubling. I’ll call that Andrea’s Adjustment for Amateurism.

Perhaps I should double the double twice—one for amateurism and one for old hardware. For a change I had the correct tools and parts, though I had to make numerous trips back into the garage to find them. Or maybe treat the additive factors as exponents.

There you are: a handy means of determining what a task will really cost you. The more critical the task, the greater the likelihood multiple doublings will ensue.

You’re welcome.

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Double the Estimate

Have you noticed how optimistic forecasts have become? (Except among the profession doom-and-gloom crowd, who are still upset Y2K didn’t bring us to our knees.) Whether they’re estimating what it’ll cost to fix your car, destroy ISIL, or pay for a new wardrobe, even professionals seem to consistently low ball the final cost—whether dollars, time, number of people, square feet of whatever.

Some of that has been going on forever. And is equally due to ignorance and optimism. During my decades as a professional logistician, I learned to “double the estimate.”

Recently a dash of deceit has been added. Twice in the last month, we have had services or products pitched, then when we committed to purchase hidden charges appeared.

Do businesses despair of repeat customers so much that they feel compelled to gouge them the first time? Surely they don’t think we’re coming back?