“What do these scenarios have in common: a professional tennis player returning a serve, a woman evaluating a first date across the table, a naval officer assessing a threat to his ship, and a comedian about to reveal a punch line?”
The Art and Science of Delay, Frank Partnoy
Whether you actually stopped for a second to think about it or skipped here, the answer is nothing other than: delays.As humans living in a fast-paced world, we tend to send and deal with received messages in a rush. As the world gets faster, however, the error margin keeps getting smaller. The average response rate is rapidly shrinking, becoming a matter of seconds.
When it comes to managing projects, team members, deadlines, and the flood of data to deal with can be overwhelming. This leaves the Product manager very little room for mistake, but also a high chance of delay!Aside from all the technical aspects of delays, did you know that there are more human reasons to it than you think? Here’s a small list:
Sometimes we receive a flood of messages, tasks, and just random bits of information, all at once. It gets overwhelming and we start getting blockages and thus creating ones for the whole team. The thing is that, even with our super-brains, there is a said amount of information we can handle at once. The brain’s key number is 7. Seven is such a small number when compared to what we have to manage daily, hourly even. That is why critical information gets easily lost somewhere between the lines.
Now the reason why information gets lost is due to the lack of call to actions. When we receive a rather important amount of tasks to do, the best way to deal with them is to prioritize. The problem starts when we don’t know what needs to be done first and what could be put off for another time.
Sadly, one of the main reasons why we miss deadlines is the fact that we didn’t know we had any! I’m not talking about the project’s major milestones, no. This is about all the small requests that we think of as so trivial that we don’t bother to set a due time for. Thing like approving a design or giving feedback on content or providing the reference of the trademarked color. As simple as they seem, such undone tasks can create serious blockages that will then entail great delays.
We as humans are by definition procrastinators. Whether we like it or not, deny it, or say that we fixed, we all have a procrastinator inside of us. It doesn’t have to be as serious as coding a whole application 5 hours before it’s due or writing a 10-pager strategy the night before the board meeting. Simply putting off a small task for later because of how simple and “trivial” it seems can cause problems for people who are waiting on it. In the end, we end up forgetting about it when all it required was a “yes, go for it”.
Even if we can’t control some of the delays, we can always try to minimize their frequency as much as possible. That can only be done by improving communication. Communication is such a crucial skill in the workplace.
Making sure to communicate effectively can increase the quantity and the quality of the work! Clear instructions that have a precise deadline can by far step up productivity and performance within the team.