The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

When deadlines lead

A few days ago Michael shared a story describing how changing the habitual deadline from Mondays to Fridays also changed the team dynamic.

With a deadline set to Monday, the team had gotten into the habit of finishing the project during the weekend. They had determined for themselves that work done on weekends was the better one. They also saw themselves in these situations as achieving the extraordinary which t they loved.

It reminded me of some of the projects I had participated in that also generated this sense of doing the extraordinary. A few of them are projects that continue to feel alive for me, they are much more present in memory than others. Some of them belong to the memories the team will continue to talk about after years. They also became a reference for new team members.

Teams like crisis. It gives them a sense of focus they will not always experience in their day-to-day work. It also comes with a sense of purpose and an idea of doing something “heroic”.

However, once crisis become a habit, they become exhausting and stressful. That’s when the team dynamic changes and members start to take up one of the roles within the drama triangle. They’ll make an extra effort to save the situation, they’ll persecute the one who defined the deadline, or they find themselves likely to be victims seeing themselves as having to do too much work.

The simple solution to shift the deadline from Mondays to Fridays helps as it reduces the probability that work will be done during the weekend. But it doesn’t remove the need to do the work.

This means that one question remains:

Is the deadline driving the team or is the team driving the deadline?


Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *