The deadline opportunity

Deadlines force focus, can create superhuman results, can help people who have been dithering decide to act.

They are, in short, incredible opportunities.

Your leadership challenge is to see deadlines coming and plan for them appropriately, get the groundwork and underpinnings and infrastructure in place well in advance so that you can use them to your and your customers’ advantage.

So, for example, since you know deadlines are going to help you close a sale, you work backwards from the deadline, you have all your prep work in place, and then you make the deadline part of the pitch long before it arrives.  This way you use the deadline to your and your client’s advantage, to help them move from good intention to action.

A good deadline is a terrible thing to waste.

3 thoughts on “The deadline opportunity

  1. Very true, all of this.

    On the other hand, most people who have been in whatever business we are talking about for any time at all know that most deadlines are phoney: very few to no, for example, real estate deals close “on time.” No, not even when it is “very important” that they do so. Anyone who has been in real estate in any capacity for a few years knows this and behaves accordingly.

    People who are aware of this factor tend to game the system. They will, for example, do the minimum to assure that when (not if) the deadline passes without anything happening, they will not be blamed for this. They may not do what really needs to be done to meet the deadline.

    All this means that either the deadline must be a real one (in which case, people being what they are, you face a real chance of a genuine catastrophe if the deadline is not met), or as a manager you are gaming the system by creating false incentives.

  2. Susan, no doubt that this is true in many cases. In my experience the deadline is as real as you make it, as is the culture of making (or missing) deadlines.

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