FLYING TOWARD A DEADLINE

  • AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Life Lessons

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    I’ve always worked well under pressure…some may call it procrastination, but I think there’s so much more to having a finite resource of time and making the most of it.

    This past week, I had the AMAZING opportunity to fly to New York with my boss and a couple of executives, seeking out a partnership with another company.  I had worked for a good part of the week, preparing content and bringing stuff together to present….  We went through several revisions with other stakeholders knowing what we had wasn’t perfect but would have to do.

    We boarded the plane, headed to cruising altitude and began to debrief the team on what we had put together…something special happened.  After about 45 minutes, we had targeted our story and started pairing down/re-organizing/revising slides…by the time we were making our final approach into NY, we shut down the computer and were all on the same page.

    While the circumstances of this flight were definitely special, there were elements that can be easily re-created to have a similar session with your own team.  Here are some of the rules I would try applying to your next meeting:

    1. Confine Yourself – though it was easy to get up and stretch legs, we weren’t able to leave the area (not without a parachute at least).  While this may seem obvious in the average conference room, make it known that you’re stuck together until you reach a certain limit
    2. Set a Limit – in our case, we had to make a presentation 30 minutes after we landed….everyone was WELL aware of the approaching deadline because the arrival time was ticking down on the wall.  Are your deadlines clearly posted?
    3. Be Selective – EVERYONE you invite will want to talk….does everyone in the room have a role?  Do you have the right people there?  If not, why are you locking them all in a room??
    4. REMOVE Distractions – Dump everyone’s phone in a bucket…you shouldn’t have a need for that if the right people are there.  Do you really need internet access?  Does everyone in the room need a computer?
    5. Make the Presenter Take Ownership – Too often, opinions are crafted by someone other than the person who has to represent them.  Make sure that person is in the room, get them to take on the task of deeply understanding the perspective and OWNING the content of the message.

     

    We stepped off of the plane and headed into the city.  On the trip in, our CMO told a story about his days as a journalist.  At his particular newspaper, the printing press would LITERALLY rumble the floor and rattle the walls as it started to warm up.  In the profession that basically invented deadlines, there wasn’t much more your boss could do to remind you that time was up.

    You most likely don’t have a reminder that is that tangible, but someone is definitely awaiting your decision….so deliver!

COMMENTS

2 Responses to Flying Toward a Deadline

  • Kurt wrote on July 24, 2012 at 8:45 // Reply

    Excellent. I would add two techniques learned from my decades of attending and conducting meetings: 1) Remove the chairs and ask participants to stand. It shortens meetings and eliminates pontificating. 2) Remove walls and doors from your offices and make it easy to “over-hear” what your colleagues are talking about around the office. It will reduce the need for meetings, increase transparency and the hum of activity is infectious.

    • Erik wrote on July 24, 2012 at 9:08 // Reply

      Great points! For the record… we’re moving buildings at the end of the week and I was successful in talking my team into a more open seating structure. We’ll have smaller individual work spaces but larger open areas and collaborative spaces. REALLY looking forward to it!

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