The lift to work: an estimation story

I have a little story to share with you.

Brian is sitting at home watching the football with a beer one Sunday afternoon, when in the middle of the second half the phone rings.

Slightly disgruntled at the interruption, Brian answers the phone to find his best friend and co-worker Simon on the other end. After some some catch up chit-chat Simon asks if Brian can drive him into work the following morning.

Brian agrees to giving lift to Simon. but then the following conversation happens:

Simon: Brian, how long will it take to drive from your home into work?
Brian: 45 minutes.
Simon: Hmm that’s not going to do, I need you to drive it in 30 minutes maximum, can you drive in that time?
Brian: No Simon, like I said the journey takes 45 minutes.
Simon: Can you do it in 30 mins if you leave at a different time?
Brian: Well maybe, but I need to be into work at my normal time so that’s not an option, but I could leave earlier if you need to be there 15 minutes earlier than I normally get into town; would that help?
Simon: No its not the time that I get there, I don’t want the drive to last more than 30 minutes. What if you used a faster car?
Brian: Given the time of day the heavy traffic will mean that a faster car will make no difference.
Simon: But Brian, I was talking with Stacy at a BBQ yesterday afternoon, and she told me that the journey should take no longer than 30 mins
Brian: Simon, Stacy cycles into work, she does not even drive!
Simon: Brian, that really not good enough. unless you can dive it in 30 minutes don’t bother.

In this little story Simon is being very unreasonable. He is taking advice from someone who does not have any experience in this Journey, but is not listening to advice from someone who does.

This story is obviously made up, but if you replace Brian with one of my test leads, and Simon with one of my Project managers then it becomes a real conversation I over heard last week. The subject was not  drive to work however, it was a test estimate for a well known piece of software.