“If I give him my best guess this afternoon, it will take ten years for anyone to prove me wrong.”
As Chancellor of the Exchequer in the mid-1920s, Winston Churchill asked his chief economist what would be required to produce a good estimate of the total cost of World War I to Britain.
The economist replied that it would take ten years by the best means available, whereupon Churchill promised his answer to the Prime Minister that same day.
He explained: “If I give him my best guess this afternoon, it will take ten years for anyone to prove me wrong.”
Uh, I’ll Deal With It Later …
While the date on this article is s not clearly available as the story has been embellished over the years, it does show the inherent nature of politicians to take advantage of the unknown.
This is not always bad. There are times when an 80% solution to a problem or even a 50% solution is better than the time it takes to get to a 100% solved problem. Obviously the balance in time and resources needs to be weighed in order to make a sound decision.
To show this, all you have to do is think about how relevant the question is ten years later. Chances are the war would have been over and the answer largely irrelevant making the exercise in finding a 100% solution pointless.
A Few Classic Churchill Quotes
1. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
2. “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
3. “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”