What Will It Take?

I blame the microwave...that, and easy financing. People today do not want to wait for anything. They want it now, instant gratification, regardless of the consequences. Opportunity cost is not a concept considered. The problem is that these impetuous people go to work in the corporate world. They want the same kind of instant gratification at work afforded them outside of work. They eat fast food, win instantly, instant message, have live updates, drive through, and use the express lane.

Any significant project takes some time. Instant does not apply. A significant task or project must be planned, designed, implemented and deployed. Each of these steps takes time. There is a certain organic process that must occur. You can break projects down into tasks that can be worked in parallel, but there is a price to pay when it comes to integrating all those completed parts back together.

Some people cannot seem to understand why projects take any time at all. After all, if you do not have money but really really want a car now, you can finance it. Never mind the debt and the interest...you got the car when you wanted it. It is these folks who will ask “What will it take ... to have the project completed by next month?” You explain that it cannot be done next month because there are still six months of work yet to be done. “Oh, I know” they reply, “but I am asking ...what will it take.” As if there is in fact some way to do it by next month. More equipment? More dollars? More people? What is it going to take?
In their pompous condescending tone they imply that for mere mortals the cost may be too high, but no matter how big the check , they will take care of it. No cost is too high. “If it is more people, then we will get more people, but I want this done.” they state boldly.
Getting approval to hire more people does nothing to help the matter. The tasks of finding, hiring and training people take time. Time you apparently don't have.
In his book The Mythical Man Month, Frederick Brooks explains how adding people to a project actually makes it take longer. The organic nature of development prevents the proverbial nine women having a baby in one month. Unfortunately, this basic concept seems to evade the vaunting.

The “what will it take” tactic is borrowed from the virtuous used car métier. Get a person to first admit that there is in fact some means through which you can get what you want. Then get concessions. Before you know it, the car is sold at a tidy profit, or you have a commitment to complete a project way before it is actually possible.

Your response to this absurd query can lead to succumbing to the coercion and getting in over your head. Refusing to respond will leave you ostracized as a detractor. One way to counter this tactic it is to respond with a query of your own. “What will it take ... for me to be promoted up two levels next week?”

I respond with the list of what it will take:
1. A DeLorean
2. Some weapons grade plutonium
3. A flux capacitor ...and a dog named Einstein.
‘Cause I am going to need to go back in time to get started sooner.