Estimations: Parkinson’s Law vs Hofstadter’s Law
Have you heard of these? More likely about the first one than the second.
Here are the definitions:
Parkinson’s Law: „Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Hofstadter’s Law: „It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”
These two seem to contradict at first, seem to complement each other at the second look, and turn out to say exactly the same thing finally.
According to Parkinson’s Law, it seems that work would always take less time than estimated under ideal circumstances, while according to Hofstadter’s Law, work seemingly always takes more time than originally estimated, no matter how big the estimation is. Contradiction.
Parkinson’s Law talks about large bureaucratic organizations, where people’s work is not always overly exciting and thus they have a tendency to get lazy and procrastinating. Hofstadter’s Law is about aggressive and ambitious organizations where everyone is pressed to deliver results fast. Complementing.
According to Parkinson’s Law, preliminary estimations often prove to be wrong, as people will cheat them, and even if everything goes well, probably they won’t finish work ahead of time. According to Hofstadter’s Law, preliminary estimations often prove to be wrong, as no matter how conservatively you estimate, you’ll keep thinking for a very long time that you are always there, and then in the final moment, everything breaks down and you’ll have lots more left to do. These are the two sides of the same thing.