The importance of deadlines and momentum

I recently read an interesting post from Business Insider on Management lessons from working at Apple I found #5 particularly interesting and important, to quote:

“Apple required absolute deadlines, and they never missed them, says Agarwal. “In terms of quality, one of the things I learned was that you don’t ship things that aren’t of ‘Apple quality,’… [even if] that means cutting something that didn’t make it in time” he says”

To me this is just so simple and so important and here’s why:

  • If something is consistently missing deadlines then evaluations need to be made: Does this activity still make business sense, have competitors, or even the market overtaken us, are we playing to our strengths as a business
  • In creative projects momentum is crucial, if something drags on and on the project inevitably stalls, people involved drift onto other things, it may even become an internal joke or an embarrassment. If this is the case a project will probably never be a success, it will be a drain on resources and a waste of time
The big issue here is priorities, if a project starts to miss deadlines and become a drag then those involved change their priorities, they stop being excited about the project and pushing to make it a success and instead they become focussed on either distancing themselves to avoid embarrassment when it goes bad (playing internal politics) or they become blindly focussed on “getting it out the door” and over with, not thinking about the bigger picture: The damage to the brand, wasted money, time and other resources etc.

So here is the lesson: stick to your deadlines and maintain momentum, if a project is consistently missing deadlines or has clearly lost all momentum don’t be too invested in it or to blinded by it to say “this isn’t working” and shelve it.

Simple right?

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