Deadline Setting is a Team Sport

Urgent!  Top Priority!  A.S.A.P. These are the deadlines routinely issued today by superiors, customers and clients.  Whether issued in the Subject line of an e-mail, the closing minutes of a meeting or via a voice mail, these mandates suggest that all current activity must stop immediately and that full attention be directed the new assignment.

The problem with this type of deadline setting is that it has become common place and is attached to all manner of work delegation – both urgent and … well … less than urgent (to be polite).   The quandaries this behavior creates are numerous:

  • If I have five “Urgents” on my to-do list, which one do I do first?
  • Why is an assignment recipient being asked to shoulder the responsibility of gleaning the true deadline in play on any particular piece of work?
  • Isn’t deadline setting a managerial responsibility most logically expected of the assignment giver?
  • And, if the assignment giver is just shoving the assignment downstream in the same manner it was received from above, doesn’t this notion of who’s responsibility it is to determine an actual due date and time even more pressing?

Lazy Deadlining

Lazy Deadlining is what it is.  Work givers using these deadlines at all levels have simply abdicated their responsibility to determine when a specific piece of work must actually be accomplished.