Friday, September 17, 2010

Deadlines : Saviour of the economy.

You keep doing something that you think is work. You are perplexed at the complexity of the problem. You try to do a Pareto analysis of the causes, only to realise that you don't even know that there WAS such a thing as a Pareto analysis. Your MECE and POA frameworks sound to you like a famous football player and a particular breakfast dish.

And then you get a deadline. 

All of a sudden, the work that you do makes sense. And you end up making a 125 slide ppt in no time. And add cool snazzy animation alongwith it. Something that would normally take you a million years would, all of a sudden, take you less than a day. Your Pareto analysis is done in a jiffy, as though you knew it inside out the whole time. You do your MECE framework as skilfully as Messi would play football, and POA as brilliantly as the Poha you get to eat. (Yep. Finally understood the attempted joke at the end of the first paragraph, right?)

My theory on deadlines is (Let's call it the Kartik principle): 

99% of your work gets done in 1% of the time before your deadline.

Deadlines do exactly what spinach does to Popeye. Imagine, if Popeye had spinach in the beginning of the cartoon, you would never HAVE Popeye cartoons in the first place! But then, Popeye would have had his own deadline. Hence, that cartoon just emphasises my point over here. If you can understand it. No?

I am sure that if Thomas Edison were working for a company with deadlines, would have done 9995 of the 10000 attempts to come up with the light bulb in the last week before the deadline. Ditto Suresh Kalamadi. Oh wait, he is already doing that!

Now, while doing your MBA, the scenario changes a little bit. Deadlines are there specifically for the students to make more deadlines. This is partly why a lot of the MBA students end up doing well in strategic and negotiating positions.

You are given something to do by a particular day (SUBMISSION BY 11:59:59 PM!!). You wait till exactly 11:29:59 PM, and then call up the professor, to extend the deadline. This process continues, till you finally realize that the term in which that subject was taught, is over. Then a nightout later, you are done with whatever it is you had to submit. Come to think of it, if we had worked from 11:29:59 PM to 11:59:59 PM, we would have completed the thing. But then, that's not what deadlines are for, right?

And that, my friends, is THE REASON why the meltdown in the world economy took place. In India, you had the MBA boom (which, I think, is still going pretty strong. It's going to take a really strong needle to break that particular bubble!). While in B-Schools, these enterprising students were doing the exact same thing described in the previous paragraph. A lot of these people, in the process of getting their coveted PPOs and final placements, went to financial hubs of the world, like the US and the UK. Obviously, once in the industry, they would do the same thing. A lot of time was spent negotiating on the deadlines, that the actual thing for which the deadline was kept in the first place, was missed out. The financial breakdown was when they realised "Oh! It's just like the term got over and we haven't submitted our project yet!!!", and finally decided to work on it. And the result? The economy is doing much better than before.

Thus, if you really look at it (Oh. This sentence reminded me of that strategy class), the main reason for the economy coming up now, is deadlines. I can only imagine what would have happened, if those deadlines were not there in the first place!


sid said...

99% of your work gets done in 1% of the time before your

aalok said...

If you really look at it... LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

"Deadlines do exactly what spinach does to Popeye"...good one!