Three Questions on Deadlines–Asking the industry

deadlines-Small-2 Deadlines ... we govern by them, talk a lot about them, gripe about them. But do we use them effectively?

Deadlines are grave ... in fact their original use was quite literal:

… And he, the said Wirz, still wickedly pursuing his evil purpose, did establish and cause to be designated within the prison enclosure containing said prisoners a "dead line," being a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall enclosing said prison and about twenty feet distant from and within said stockade; and so established said dead line, which was in many places an imaginary line, in many other places marked by insecure and shifting strips of [boards nailed] upon the tops of small and insecure stakes or posts, he, the said Wirz, instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might touch, fall upon, pass over or under [or] across the said "dead line" .... ["Trial of Henry Wirz," Report of the Secretary of War, Oct. 31, 1865]


A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all. ~ Rita Mae Brown

Deadlines can be deadly serious. They are set to meet key coordination dates and understanding those real business needs can be the line between success or real business death. Deadlines can help us focus – finding the real value of the work to be done and trimming the waste.

DSC_0423.JPGMost of the time, however, deadlines are wishes. They are dates we’d like to get something done by, regardless of all else.  Missing these deadlines has little consequences on customer value, but they cause people to work as if the fate of the company were at stake.

Many people use deadlines, inappropriately, to motivate. They often do this because they have no other way to inspire their workforce or they really do believe that deadlines work for this.

We thought it might be a good idea to ask around – and find out how people are using deadlines. Where are they working? Where are people finding other ways to motivate their workforce?

In this series we have:


(these links will go live as we release the interviews over the course of the week)


If you would like to be part of a future interview series, please let us know!