For many good reasons deadlines can be seen as bad things. For more context and clarity, I recommend Beyond Deadlines by Jabe Bloom.
So here is what can happen if we take the time to look beyond a deadline and ask about why it is important.
Imagine that we are going to have a birthday party.
And now imagine that we want to develop an application to help us organise and run the party.
We might start by asking for the full application functions to be ready 2 months prior to the party (which, being a birthday, is a date that is fixed).
We may find that the reason we need the application is to help us draw up the list of attendees first and this is why we need it 2 months prior.
However the other things that we need the application to do are not needed by that date and can be delivered a bit later.
Functions are needed at different times
A basic set might look like the above.
- Function to draw up a list of attendees – needed 2 months prior
- Function to create invitations and get them ready to mail – needed 6 weeks prior
- Function to order the ingredients and make the cake – needed 2 days prior
- Function to run the party (check in the guests) – needed on the birthday
By asking why a date is important, we have created a list of functions in order of priority – so that we can make an informed choice about delivery instead of trying to develop and deliver all of the functions at once.
We also have a great conversation about why each function is needed and what it will be used for.
People often set deadlines for good reasons, looking beyond and asking about those reasons is a great starting place.