December 12, 2017

Deadlines are a boring topic. Most people think they know everything about deadlines. And still keep missing them. And worse: fail building crews, which can keep deadlines.

On 21 July 1966 Kenneth Williams wrote in his Diaries —

“It proves that one can do anything if the need is urgent and there is a deadline…”

I’ve always found it much better to receive inspiration from conductors and standup comedians than business people.

Two short pieces of wisdom from me.

First —

— do set a deadline. Even if there is no deadline, do set one and set it properly, based on a proper review of the requirements and on a proper estimation and on proper availability of the crew. You do not want a crew which has become unfit in times of low pressure. Act in times of low pressure as in times of high pressure: steadily.

— do not move deadlines. If a customer moves a deadline due to internal reasons (moves it to a later time/date, that is), do not tell this the crew and keep the original deadline. You do not want to condition your crew to hope for or expect that a deadline might move to a later time/date. A deadline should have a permanent meaning.


It was noted, by a reader of the blog, that an improperly set deadline can be disastrous to the quality of work. A very good remark. I could not agree more. The two examples above concern only properly set deadlines and, as the economists like to say, caeteris paribus.


I provide limited free 1920s personal mentoring to young people. If you need an advise about a decision in your profession, about the company or department you have founded or run, do contact me at

Go top