Madrid – Barcelona it is not just a matter of football

Written on May 23, 2012 by uwe.spangler@ie.edu in New Experiences

Project Management Professor Fabrizio Tesolato, proposes a different approach on estimations.

In the Superior Program in Project Management online and in the MIM, students have to face a small “virtual” challenge: The question is simple, but the answer not at all: How much does it take to drive from Madrid to Barcelona? Imagine you have to give a tender budget on this task and your O.O.M (Order of Magnitude) has to be +/- 5%. This means if you fail in more than 5 % in your estimation you will pay penalties. You have limited information, except the fact that there is (virtually) no speed limit

For the Superior Program in Project Management online in an interactive videoconference, Fabrizio separated the students into different breakout groups, fostered their discussion and asked them about their best bid for time estimation and analyzing hypothesis to set estimations, something that in projects is crucial.

Although the exercise looks simple it was a real challenge for all involved:
As Fabrizio mentions: “The exercise is quick and simple, but students learn a lot about the three main difficulties in an estimation: Time restraints, limited information, different factors affecting the final output and its uncertainty. In other words, the problem is how to forecast the future. With this exercise people become really sensitive to these issues.”
After the discussion just one group is the winner but they have to be sure that they proposal is realistic.

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