let's slow down
Getting it right beats getting it now, everytime.
Let me paint a picture for you:
You're at your office with a ton work that has to get done. You would love to give it the extra attention it deserves, but the problem is there is just no time. Everything you're working on is due yesterday and everybody's screaming for it. On top of the fact that your boss just walked in with yet another request, to which you can't say "no" — I mean, she's your boss, right? So what happens? You stress, you rush, you stay up late and cram all of your pieces together into some semblance of a "I got my act together" presentation in hopes that everyone will still be impressed.
Well, welcome to the club, I've been a member for almost 20 years and nothing's changed. We all do it: as employees, or even as a company, we find ourselves falling into this vicious cycle all the time. Why does *everything* need to be done in a rush? Not that we plan on it, it just seems to work out that way. Unfortunately, our industries feed that frenzy by cramming great 2-hour seminars into 20 minutes, turning networking events into hyper-speed meet-and-greets, or encouraging last-minute drop-offs or copy changes for jobs that are to print and deliver the same day! Where we should be the voice of reason and careful planning, we're not.
Fear of the competition is the short answer, but even more so, I think it's fear of disappointment. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. We're so anxious about pleasing the client that we'll promise anything, even if it's not possible. "Tell them what they want to hear, and we'll worry later about how we're going to pull-it-off." This seems to be the status quo in many of our industries. We can't help ourselves. We like being the good guys. The ones that can get it done. But more often than not this approach has consequences. We end up creating more work and more headaches for ourselves and our clients. And if a major fail occurs as a result, suddenly the value in getting it now is not as important as getting it right.
So, what do we do?
It'd be nice if rush jobs simply disappeared from our crazy universe and we ALL did things on time (yeah I know, keep dreaming, right?) We live in the real world, and in the real world sh!# happens. However, we can bring them under control. Let clients know upfront what you can and can't do. Be supportive, but be honest (with them and yourself.) Dont be afraid to ask why the rush? Maybe all they need right now is a short run, a lightweight app solution or basic website; the bulk of the order can be fulilled at a later date. Provide cheat sheets on how files and content should be submitted that would save lots of time and make everyone's life a little easier. But more importantly, we want to encourage (and reward) clients for getting jobs to us in a timely manner. Offer discounts and other incentives for clients who were apt in preparing their files correctly, and giving you enough time to produce and deliver an awesome product. If you make it worth their while, and they'll take you up on it. Let's encourage each other to slow down, and conserve that frenetic energy for situations that can't be avoided.
Sounds "kinda" okay, but will it work?...
The truth is that rush orders are inescapable, competition will always be nipping at your heels, and you can't be everything to everybody. Pick the things you're really good at and chuck the rest (who cares what the other guy is doing.) Henry Ford said: "The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time." Be realistic about what you can accomplish and be the best at it. Optimize your systems to deliver the greatest impact for your particular brand, and people will take notice. Then encourage clients to avoid rushing jobs by offering helpful tips and great incentives so you can deliver the best product possible. If you develop this culture around your business, things will start to get a lot better (and a lot less stressful) for everyone involved. Try it! Soon, you'll be singing:
"I have to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time." — the Beatles