Extending Deadlines Doesn’t Solve Problems, It Postpones Them

Have you ever noticed that some companies seem to jump from crisis to crisis? You’d have to work there to see it. It typically goes something like this…

  1. There are many top-level initiatives in progress within the company.
  2. There’s inadequate staffing so most of the staff ends up assigned to two or more such initiatives.
  3. Before long, something goes wrong on one of the initiatives and it attracts top level attention.
  4. A company crisis is declared and all hands are ordered to help resolve the issue(s).

Guess what happens next?

  1. The immediate crisis is resolved and everyone celebrates.
  2. In the meantime, other projects are not getting the attention or staffing they need.
  3. And so, another initiative deteriorates into crisis mode and the pattern repeats.

The organization jumps from crisis to crisis — over and over.

Sadly, this is a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. It can actually be addictive. There is a thrill that some managers derive from being a hero by solving the latest crisis. It may become a contest among the management team to see who can solve the most crises and be the biggest hero.

There’s no way to be agile in the middle of crisis after crisis. Ultimately, there are only two ways out of these complex predicaments. A) Reduce the number of top-level initiatives, or B) Add staffing to eliminate the multitasking. That’s it, pick one.

Many managers will be tempted to add a third option — extend the deadline on one or more initiatives and buy time. Bad idea! Pushing out deadlines doesn’t solve problems, it postpones them. They’ll resurface.

Every company faces the occasional crisis needing senior management attention, that’s normal. When the occasional crisis becomes a way of life, there’s a serious problem.

Find out what’s causing one crisis after another. Address the underlying issues. Get back on track. Be agile!

Updated: January 15, 2012 — 10:29 pm