Fundamental of the Week #22: Demonstrate Urgency in Response Time and Follow-Up

Model enthusiasm in your response to issues and rigor in your follow up. Make sure your work is accurate, complete and timely. Keep people updated and make sure they are clear about your communication(s).

Over the years I have been a casualty of Parkinson’s. Not the medical condition that unfortunately so many suffer from, but Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the amount of time available for its completion.”

Project after project of mine would start with an adequate amount of available time for its completion, but I would dally and then end up frantically crashing toward fulfilling a deadline and often end up begging for more time. My efforts to improve my response time over the years did progress, at glacial speed. Lack of urgency and procrastination became blurred lines.

Then, a while back, I received an inquiry from an Australian mining company that I respect, about doing some work in Central America. I was excited, a potential new mining company client with an enormous project. In my initial conversation with the PM, who would make the decision, he asked for a proposal, which I agreed to send within two days wanting to make an impression. It turned out to be a little trickier than usual, I didn’t start on it immediately and my usual support group was not currently available…panic! I did manage to finish on time, barely, when I suddenly remembered there was a time difference of 12 hours; it was already yesterday there. Then, my e-mail kept kicking back. I finally got the proposal through and I owned being late. Nothing ever came of it. It was a sobering moment for me.

Since that time, I have developed a practice of promising, after a calendar moment, the amount of time it would take to accomplish the task I just committed to, boxing myself in with no extra time to dally. So far, it’s working. This piece is an example, it’s late in the day, but I promised it today.

I’m making Parkinson’s Law work for me, I promise within the amount of time it takes to deliver. I’m not stupid about it. I’m just getting rigorous about promising with urgency.

Craig Clark
Founder and CEO,
Momentum Consulting, Inc