Stop compressing deadlines!!

It amazes me how deadlines are created and then compressed, over and over again, as the task is passed down the chain to the actual people who will be doing the work. The person who created the original task maybe wanted it within 10 days, but by the time the people who are actually going to do the work get the task the deadline’s been compressed to two.

Knee jerk reactions, a lack of trust across the organization, fear of failure/getting it wrong, too much micro-management, and all of a sudden you have the ‘doers’ operating in crisis mode. And not just this time, because the workplace is full of these short-term tasks and deadlines. So what do you get; you get an environment where everything is urgent and the people who do a lot of the real work are not given the right time to do it. You get anxiety, stress, and resentment. More than anything else you get a mediocre organization that’s killing its staff!

The fix is easy. And it starts with the one-third/two-thirds rule; a key principle that’s been proven to give those who need to do the work the most time possible to do it. But it’s extremely hard to implement, as for it to be effective you need a leadership culture of trust.

Your boss wants your team to present something to her in 10 days. Easy. Give your team 7 days. Review it on day 8, day 9 is your flex and then your good to go. The one-third/two-thirds rule.

And don’t let people or organizations make excuses as to why they can’t do this:…this won’t work here….you don’t understand our organization…we have very complex issues that need lots of different levels of reviews… I don’t buy any of it. They’ve created all those levels of reviews. They’ve created an environment where people fear when they don’t perfect everything, an environment where leadership makes so many changes that the final product ends up very close to the first draft that was handed in (we’ve all been there…). They’re part of the system that doesn’t define what they expect the end product to look like. So I don’t buy that this can’t be done, because I’ve seen it be done.

I’ve been part of organizations that had some of the most complex and risky projects and decisions imaginable; lives at stake. And I can tell you that when you combine this approach with clear tasks that have transparent expectations of what the final product needs to achieve, then the one-third/two-thirds rule works. But it takes trust. Oh, trust.

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