Optimistic time (vs. honest time)
Optimistic time seems like a good idea. "We'll ship in January." "The conference will start at noon." "I'll be there in ten minutes."
The hope is that the expectation of completion will raise our expectations and increase the chances that something will actually happen.
In fact, though, there are huge costs to optimistic time. When you announce things based on optimism, the rest of the world you're engaging with builds plans around you and your announcement. And the cost of the person who doesn't have your software or is sitting around a meeting room for hours waiting is high indeed.
The alternative is honest time. Time without recourse or negotiation. The Metro North train leaves at 5:52. Not 5:55, no matter how much you want it to wait.
The software ships, the conference starts–at precisely when we say it will. So the world plans on it and depends on it and effectiveness grows.
It doesn't ship because it's ready. It ships because it's due.
(Amazingly, this rule makes things ready a lot more often).
It's a point of view and a contract with yourself. It ships when I said it would.