In Praise of Deadlines

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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It is only April 2nd, but I can already predict that local TV cameras will have the post office staked out 13 days from now as thousands of people rush to get their income tax forms postmarked ahead of the deadline. I’m no fan of income taxes but have to admit that deadlines are a good thing. Not the fake deadlines we see on reality car repair or real estate remodeling shows, but the real, honest-to-goodness, get-it-done-by-Friday-or-the-ship/plane/rocket-leaves- without-it-and-you-lose-the-account, kind of deadline.

There are a lot of complications and distractions in most organizations that make “expediting” a frustrating occupation. It gets even more difficult in large organizations where there are multiple decision-makers who each have a different notion of what is most important. You can end up spending precious hours arguing what could have been put to more productive use.

That is part of the reason why I enjoy the occasional breakdown/rush/emergency project — especially one that comes down from upper management. And the higher up the chain-of-command, the better. As an apprentice I once got assigned to making sure Mr. Falk’s sail boat rudder got repaired. The battered bronze piece had an official shop routing with specific operators who were to work on it. I got a red coaster wagon, a map of the shop, and a letter authorizing me to interrupt any job on the floor except (for Department of Defense orders). It was a heady couple of days for a green kid; getting screamed at by foremen, laughed at by co-workers, and learning the best ways to get people to see things your way. Needless to say, Mr. Falk’s parts were done ahead of schedule.

Properly managed rush jobs can really pull a team together. Most of us never get the opportunity to take the final shot in the big game, but we can contribute the short-cut that helps make the customer happy. Rush jobs have a way of cutting through the red tape and processing cues in ways that bring satisfaction to the team members. Sometimes they are important lessons that change the way we do our routine business.

So when that phone rings and your salesperson has a big challenge he wants you to take, step up to the line and take your best shot. The thrill of victory lasts a long time.

 

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