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When Sooner Is Better

It’s well known in the marketing field that if you open up enrolments for your new course/program for a week – you’ll get 80% of your enrolments in the final 4hrs before the window closes.

We humans usually need a deadline to force us to make a decision. The urgency clears out the fence-sitters – because waiting any longer is a forced ‘No’… and no one likes to be forced to do anything! A similar story plays out inside of our businesses too. Look at your regular reporting cycles – whether it’s project reports, business planning, or meeting submissions – 80% of the volume will come in with just moments to spare.

Yet, when we roll out new changes we worry about giving people ‘enough time to transition’. In contrast to this, the most successful change rollouts I’ve seen have leaned heavily towards “just rip off the bandaid”. The best example of this I’ve been involved in was a restructure that, in just a few months, worked through from initial design to go-live. (And this was in a Government Department!)

Your staff are more adaptable than you’re giving them credit for.

BUT, and there’s a huge BUT here – you can and should be aggressive in timelines, but not without empathy. They must not be surprised, and they must have the tools needed to adapt.

So I have a tactic for you:

Weaponise the ‘Eisenhower matrix’ to get people to prioritise YOUR work.

The Eisenhower matrix is one of the most popular tools used by professionals to prioritise their time. It’s a simple 4 quadrant matrix – evaluating tasks on the basis of urgency and importance.

The Eisenhower Matrix: Time and Task Management Made Simple - Luxafor

People turn to it when they feel they’re not being proactive enough – which of course means they’re spending their time on a) the urgent stuff first, then b) busywork second.

So when you need something done:

  1. Make it feel urgent. Use noisy, ultra-tight deadlines. (Note: Best practice here means giving them a heads up that the work is coming well before you hit them with the short deadline.)
  2. Make it feel important. Use the word ‘because’ to reinforce the urgency created in point 1.

I often hear of new initiatives running surveys that give people 2-4 weeks to respond. The thinking is that by giving respondents more time to respond, that you’ll get more responses. When, in reality, your email comes into their inbox with a 4 week deadline – they say “Hmm interesting.. I’ll deal with that later”… then the email is promptly forgotten and you sit there wondering what in the world went wrong?!

Instead, keep deadlines short. You’ll be doing both them, and you, a favour.

Food for Thought

Is it just me, or has “All the best” somehow become the passive-aggressor’s favourite way of saying “F-off, don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.

Surely we can do better than that.

Brendon Baker

Brendon is a leading expert in strategic framing and inside-out change. He has led and guided over $11 Billion in transformative projects and programs, from transformations to teddy bears. He is the author of the best-seller Valuable Change, and niche top seller Creating High Value PMOs. Brendon now spends his time helping leaders cut through the noise to focus on what matters; working with them to create new realities.

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