Thomas Edison declared, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” When something needs to happen tends to be very tactical, yet it holds a potent influence on success.
The funny thing about when something needs to happen is that different deadlines for the same project or need can be appropriate. A lot depends on the risk you’re willing to take partnered with the confidence of each step happening suitably well.
So often people assume everything will be perfect and leave no time to fix issues, whether minor hiccups or significant problems. On the flip side, others plan so many possible troubles that the project is drawn out to a ridiculously long timeline.
Try mapping out 2-3 high-level scenarios. You’ll almost always find that a high, medium, low risk correlates quite nicely to fast, moderate and measured timing. It’s a useful strategy for understanding both your stakeholders’ (yourself included) sense of urgency and true appetite for risk.
If you’re smart, you’ll also propose timing and get feedback before you lock overall timing down. Pressure-test people’s assumptions on dependencies. Otherwise, you might unintentionally build in risk. You’d hate to be depending on a deliverable, only to find that there’s a national holiday, or there’s a major computer system upgrade, a major sales meeting or some other such immovable impediment. Similarly, you might not know of a regulatory or technical hurdle.
What happens when you have fuzzy timing? Start laying out assumptions. Make sure to point them out and think through how timing might change as you make adjustments. You might discover some scenarios fall off as your exercise highlights the timing issues.
Now a last nitty-gritty thought. Be specific with your timing. An unfortunate rule of thumb is that if people can misunderstand, someone will. When you say Wednesday, do you mean first thing, close of business, or even midnight? When you are working with people from different cultures, be extremely specific. What I call late afternoon is often not the same as what my Argentinian colleague has in mind. It can’t hurt to provide the date as well. You don’t want to expect a file on July 2, only to get it a week later on July 9.
Timing matters – from the comic’s gift, the smooth running of the railways, to the marketplace success.
credit: Image courtesy of pakron / FreeDigitalPhotos.net