Sunday, August 28, 2011

Leadership Limerick: Dealing with Deadlines

Every Monday, I offer a leadership limerick, highlighting an idea or strategy about effective leadership in limerick form. Searching for leadership limerick will identify previous posts.

A deadline is a specified date
But one that sometimes can wait

If your back is to the wall
And you must make a call

Is there a new option you can create?

Sometimes we decide to advance an imperfect solution because timeliness is indeed critical. "We could probably do better, but given all the circumstances here, this is good enough to get out since people need something now."

Other times we choose to revisit just exactly what has to be done right now and what can be postponed. "We've got to get the convention program to the printer, but we still have a few unconfirmed speakers.  Instead of holding up the entire job, let's list the session titles and descriptions and note that the speakers are TBA."

Deadlines help ensure things get done.  But meeting a deadline isn't the sole criterion for success.  So the next time your back is up against the wall, ask yourself:
  • Does something have to be done right now?
  • If so, what absolutely must be done right now?
  • What ideally would be done now, but could be done later if we modify our approach?
  • Then make the choice that honors the deadline, but also the other variables critical to your effort's success.
Constraints like deadlines keep projects advancing, but we still have choice in how we respond to them. So let's make sure our choices are ones informed by more than just the clock or calendar.  "On time" isn't necessarily the only critical metric for every single effort (unless of course you're FedEx or UPS, among others).

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