Unreasonably Short Deadlines

As a rule, I always create deadlines with less time than is needed to accomplish the task. It’s an effective way to make my employees more efficient!

Why drag out an agonizing project? Short deadlines failing much quicker.

Let’s be honest here — I’m a “burn the calendar at both ends” kind of guy. I don’t respect deadlines, so why should I enforce them? So when my department decides due dates for big projects, I always push back for strategically short deadlines. Why? I’m so glad you asked, for I would love to teach you.

  • Unreasonably short deadlines for rigorous tasks makes people work harder. They seem to be able to meet the deadlines, especially when there are harsh consequences if they don’t. Weird. I like to think of this as an exercise in increasing their productivity. The concept is meant to stick with them long afterward, which is why I call it the “stick” method.
  • Most schedules have “fluff” time built into them. They are often padded quite a bit with unnecessary extra time. For example, killing off the error budget is an easy way to shift the deadline 10% to the left.

Leadership Vacuum Top Tip

Shifting deadlines “to the left” makes tasks due earlier. Shifting “to the right” postpones deadlines. As everyone knows, this obviously has something to do with politics.
  • Deadlines are pretty much always arbitrary. There’s always some more time to pay your taxes from five years ago or catch up on your overdue car payment.
  • Get them over with as soon as possible. If you’re going to completely miss a deadline, which happens often around here, you might as well plan on it going into a project than cling to false hopes that you can finish the task in a fair amount of time.

And there you have it — you should now be convinced to make unreasonably short deadlines for big projects. Try it! If your group meets the deadline, then they are lazy all other times. If they don’t, at least you have failed to meet it quickly and it’s no longer hanging over your head.

W. Albert Jameson, IV

On the other hand…
Be proactive about creating meaningful deadlines. Plan our your projects to know how much time you reasonably need do it well. Otherwise, you set yourself up to fail consistently.
  • G.J.

    So.. after doing large level Ops…. I find the leadership vacuum comes because the leader/organization (its not always in the managers control it may be corporate administration) “doesn’t want to be bothered with the details”.. For example we do education dinners that require budget approval, a venue, venue approval, contracting, marketing, guest acceptance, confirmation of attendance. Also the people we target need to clear their schedule six weeks in advance. So for anyone who has done “reverse planning” you would recognize that you need a minimum of 8 weeks to plan and execute this event. I seem to frequently get the response “why do we need to look so far out in the future???” Most administrative support focus on the “day of the event” rather than a stepwise approach. The additional “suck” in the vacuum comes when the team that missed the deadline then start the “fix” by pointing blame instead of looking for solutions.