The direction of the unexpected.
I am currently reading The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, which had been recommended to me so often in the last four years that for a while I became irrationally opposed to reading it. But after two quarters of intense study of predictive analytics and econometrics, this seemed to be a good antidote.
An antidote to statistics it certainly is. Taleb systematically dismantles most of the suppositions underlying finance and statistics. A dense and sometimes rambling read, it is also practical and thought-provoking and utterly fascinating. I'm only halfway through and already the pages sit well-notated and dog-eared. This is a book I will read several times in a row, and -- friends, be warned -- one I will gift many times. I can't wait to hear what my professors think of this...
There's lots to say about this book, and I'll never fit it all into one post. But let me pass along this succinct bit of planning wisdom I read tonight: "The unexpected almost always pushes in a single direction: higher costs and longer time to completion."
I've written about this idea before, and we've probably all experienced it. The bill at Costco is always larger than you think it is going to be; it takes twenty minutes longer to find a parking spot than you anticipate. And in the case of fundraising, a program always takes longer to get off the ground than you hope it will.
Sadly, the counter-measure is not a tighter timeline and fewer resources. It makes sense to plan for things to be a bit more expensive than you'd like them to be. Because, they will be.