Deadline to Failure

It is 2013. A time when modern companies are seeking to make their staff feel more inclusive and more part of the team rather than a slave or a prisoner. Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook reach out to their staff in as many ways as they can think of to achieve this more progressive and modern thinking.

Given all of this, one would think that the use of such an archaic term as “Deadline” would be totally removed from any such company seeking such positive relations with their staff?

dead·line – noun

1. the time by which something must be finished or submitted; the latest time for finishing something.

2. a line or limit that must not be passed.

3. (formerly) a boundary around a military prison beyond which aprisoner could not venture without risk of being shot by the guards.

I have posed this thought to a few people in start-ups recently but the idea seems to fallen on deaf ears or maybe I need to keep working on my concept. Most think that running a business is not possible without deadlines. I beg to differ. Over the last 2 years I have been running a startup and have used my favourite saying to get me there so far.

That is “step by step”. This is a slow and steady approach to getting to where we want as opposed to setting any deadlines. I guess when one is doing most of the work on a shoestring and getting paid peanuts, there is no point in stressing. Also working for a large global multinational, Allianz Global Assistance, one gets to realise that no much gets done in a hurry and so setting any deadlines is ridicules in this instance.

One way to simply bypass deadlines is to get your workers to quote for a job and then let them meet that quote. When one is setting one’s own “deadline” it is not really one, as we are not likely to shoot ourselves.

In a lot of ways the use of deadlines are ridicules, in that they are rarely achieved and in a lot of cases miss the mark considerably. The fear and stress associated with them seems to restrict getting early feedback that it will not be achieved, ultimately contributing to
this bad time management, in my view.

So what can we use to replace Deadlines? Well what about milestones? That is, instead of using the proverbial stick we use the carrot to achieve our goals. And instead of rules we substitute guidelines.

All in all I give any use of imposed Deadlines 5 out of 10 for people management. Any feedback much appreciated.

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