Hair-Raising Tales Of Harrowing Deadlines
A deadline can be one of the most frightening aspects of business for many people. A missed deadline can cost an organization money, customers and, in some professions, lives. On the other hand, those who are able to meet tough deadlines can often become heroes in the minds of their organizations and the community.
To better understand ways that companies and people are able to overcome the obstacles that rise between getting a project done on time and failing to meet a due date, business writer Dan Carrison conducted more than 70 interviews with people from a variety of organizations that have met spectacular deadlines. These deadline-savvy organizations range from the builders of the new Broncos Stadium in Denver, who brought in their multi-million-dollar project ahead of schedule and below budget, to the people at Conoco's Houston headquarters, who were able to meet the challenges presented by tropical storm Allison. Also explored in his book are Boeing's challenge to build the 777 on time, the FBI's task of solving a life-and-death kidnapping case, and the push for Lockheed Martin and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to launch the 2001 Odyssey Orbiter's mission to Mars.
These stories will send chills up your spine with tales of impossible odds and harrowing deadlines. Along with these organizations' amazing accomplishments, Carrison delivers scores of ways deadlines can be met through organizational prowess.
When Turner Construction was faced with the challenge of building the Denver Broncos' new football stadium, it discovered many more obstacles than the 27 months it had to complete a job that normally would take 36 months. It also found that local voters had not yet voted on the referendum that would allow their tax money to pay for the new stadium. Instead of waiting for the starter's pistol, the company took a million-dollar risk and entered the design phase of the construction before it was guaranteed that the stadium could actually be built.
Once the referendum passed, the company's next struggle was to start construction on the stadium while two-thirds of the land was still tied up in red tape. Undaunted, designers and builders discovered new ways to do business that had never been attempted before. Another way they were able to meet this deadline was to consolidate all the decision makers under one roof so everyone on the design-build team stayed on the same page. This decision fostered a more productive flow of information and made what seemed impossible possible.
As an example of the most "drop dead" of deadlines, Carrison offers the story of the deadline faced by the FBI during a kidnapping where the son of a highly successful stockbroker and his wife was held for an $800,000 ransom. With a "take charge" attitude, and instant mobilization, the FBI set out to capture the kidnappers before the couple's son was killed.
After the kidnappers were caught and the son was returned to the family, Carrison writes that all the agents involved in the case performed a prompt review of the actions that were taken to meet the deadline. In reviews like this one, whatever worked is identified, and all actions that were taken are replayed to discover what could have been done better. Using this "reverse engineering," deadline management techniques can be identified and improved.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Deadline! not only offers compelling examples of deadlines that were met under daunting odds and amazing challenges, but also provides ample commentary that spells out the management lessons that can be learned from the experiences of others. After each chapter, Carrison gives readers a check list of deadline management techniques that were learned from the "crucible of this project." These tips provide valuable insight into the process of meeting deadlines and satisfying the demands of those who cannot wait. Carrison's focus throughout Deadline! never drifts from his primary goal - teaching his readers how to win the race against time.