The planning fallacy, innovation and ateleological design

I occasionally get comments (usually agreement) on the quote that I include in my email signature. The quote

If a major project is truly innovative, you cannot possibly know its exact cost and its exact schedule at the beginning. And if in fact you do know the exact cost and the exact schedule, chances are that the technology is obsolete.

is from Joseph Gavin discussing the design of the Lunar module.

I like it because it expresses the huge disconnect that I see between the assumptions that underlie teleological design processes and innovation, especially in Universities. This causes me great problems because the majority of information technology and management folk in Universities don’t recognise the disconnect between innovation and telological processes. What’s worse is that they aren’t even aware that there are alternatives and that those alternatives are a better fit in some circumstances.

Support from psychology

This post from 37Signals (which has a variety of interesting perspectives in the comments) points to this post about the planning philosophy.

I should repeat that I don’t think teleological processes are inherently bad, just that they are a bad fit for projects that involve innovation, novelty or learning.

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