Committing to impossible deadlines

“You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.” – unknown

My message to you is simple.  Don’t be the sucker!

Any project professional in any role, at some point in time will be asked to commit to an impossible deadline or very nicely be committed to one on your behalf, such as by a project manager who wrote a plan without consulting you.

The project world is tough and can get dirty so stay strong, and in cases like this, assert yourself to ensure not only yours but the projects success.

As with many occasions where you will need to negotiate an outcome, you need facts, you need information to back up your claim.  Getting defensive in a meeting and stomping your feet saying it just can’t be done, although is a clear message, unfortunately does not always do the job.

Always remain calm and let the facts speak for themselves.  Do a plan and ensure you explain any dependencies and elements you have no control over, such as processing by a third party.

Also prepare options or alternatives so they understand what they would be sacrificing if they insist on sticking to the impossible deadline. For example, if they won’t move on the deadline then explain the reduced scope that can be delivered in that time frame.  Show them they will feel pain if they are not willing to negotiate a more satisfactory outcome for everyone.


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