Deadlines — Moving the Goalpost (CEOs Only)

Deadlines, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here on a spectacular Sunday morning. The Boss is enroute to church, so I can finally use the damn computer.

So, here it is, y’all. We are going to talk about deadlines.

You will recall I ragged you pretty good about creating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Constrained) goals.

OK, so you see the part about “time constrained?” That is the deadline, the goal post.

Deadlines are important, Big Red Car, right?

Deadlines are important, beloved reader, and that’s why a great goal is constrained by time. There is a deadline.

It is also an allocation of resources. You only have so much time. Time is the most precious resource of all. When it expires, you cannot buy more of it.

Experienced CEOs and deadlines

Experienced CEOs realize that setting the deadline for any goal is an arbitrary allocation of that precious resource. Not arbitrary in the context that it is light or intransigent, but arbitrary in that you often don’t know how long it’s going to take to get something done. You just don’t know. It’s a guess some of the time.

If you abandon a goal because you have exceeded the allocated time, then you will never know if a bit more time might have gotten you a better result. This may simply be the realization that the time you allocated was inadequate to accomplish the goal.

Advice to CEOs: Make damn sure you aren’t letting the clock running out decide whether you have accomplished the objective. PUT MORE TIME ON THE CLOCK?

Real world it, Big Red Car

OK, let me take the example of the repeal and replacement of Obamacare which failed this week.

Obamacare was signed into law by President Obama on 23 March 2010.

President Obama was sworn into office on 20 January 2009.

Trumpcare¬†went down in flames two days ago on 24 March 2017 when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled the legislation down — meaning it would not be submitted for a vote on the House floor as he knew it was not going to be approved. [Note: Five days earlier Speaker Ryan assured the White House he had the votes to pass it. Bad job by Speaker Ryan, sayeth the Big Red Car.]

President Trump was sworn into office on 20 January 2017 (at noon EST).

Therein lies the problem.

President Obama received a bill and signed it some fourteen months after taking office.

President Trump had the Speaker pull the bill only two months after taking office.

President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan, flush with 100-day progress nonsense, allowed the goalpost to hit them in the head. Huh? Y’all give up after sixty days? Move the damn goalpost and keep working.

So, dear reader, there you have it. When a CEO is facing a failed objective, she has to ask herself: “Have I allocated the appropriate period of time to accomplish this objective?”

If you cannot say, “Yes,” then think about moving the goalpost.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Go Heels! You know you want the Tarheels to be cutting down the nets, don’t you? Admit it.cropped-LTFD-illust_300.png


I rarely do a postscript and the purpose of this post was to discuss the issue of deadlines, but I do have to say that the Republicans really screwed this up. They had eons to craft a bill and they knew it would require the cooperation and support of EVERY Republican in the Congress. They screwed it up. Five days before the vote, Speaker Ryan reports he has the votes? WTF?

It was a complicated legislative approach — budget reconciliation — and the necessity to package the legislation in three pieces was unnecessarily complicated. The Boss read the actual bill and there was plenty not to like and, yes, it was Obamacare Lite, with a promise to fix that in subsequent legislation. Haha. Yeah.

9 thoughts on “Deadlines — Moving the Goalpost (CEOs Only)

  1. For project deadlines, for larger projects, there is some methodology that apparently can be useful in effect for converting (A) money and some other resources into (B) time.

    E.g., can find a project critical path which is where spending more money on the parts of the project on that path to make that path one second faster makes the whole project one second faster (convert money into time).

    There is more in decision trees, game approaches, best decision making over time under uncertainty, etc. Generally these are applied math tools that say what to do if have more data than likely do have in practice yet sometimes do have enough data to make some good progress.

    Supposedly such techniques were useful in the early work on the US nuclear submarines and in the NASA space race. And it appears that such techniques were long common in many engineering projects.

    With some good progress into a project, it can be possible — except for somewhat rare unpredictable, independent, exogenous events, e.g., the rains early in Gulf War I, e.g., the bad weather that delayed the Normandy landings a month until June 6, 1944 — to use the success to date to estimate the time remaining.

    For the AHCA and Speaker Ryan, maybe part of a decision tree analysis was that Trump would win (A) a good health care bill or (B) get Ryan discredited and irrelevant for the rest of the Trump work — all the campaign promises — including another effort at health care reform.

    It’s long been clear that Ryan is a total pain in the back side for nearly all concerned and needed to be pushed out of the way, and now he has been.

    In one step more detail, Ryan has a little scam: He has found some special interests with some money, and he promises to support their wishes and they give money to his PAC. He uses the PAC to help some Republican House Members get reelected, and, then, they vote him in a Speaker. Then as Speaker, he at least pretends to support the wishes of the special interests but, as we have just seen, he is not very good at getting actual results. But he does get what he wants — Speaker. RyanCare was just Ryan’s effort to support some insurance companies. He in effect had promised to do that so did. What he was doing was just to pretend to support the wishes of the special interests and had nothing to do with Trump’s goals or US health care at all. Ryan knew from the beginning that RyanCare would flop, but RyanCare, first cut to some special interests with more money than brains, were mollified. Also Ryan hates Trump because Trump has his support from the people who like his rallies and does not have to try to please Ryan’s special interests and this threatens Ryan’s little scam.

    So, Ryan has to be pushed out of relevance, and now he has been. Net, Ryan did his little dance, and now that’s over. Trump, US health care, and reality had nothing to do with it.

    Ryan is not very bright and sees his scam as his only path to any success. Well, his little scam is over now. He did see that coming, and that’s why he hated Trump all along.

    Ryan and all the Republicans would now be much better off being loyal to Trump, but so far they are still in doubt. Now that Ryan has lost his influence, other Republicans will begin to see that they need to get loyal to Trump.

    So will some moderate Democrats, e.g., who don’t want to go on a 2018 political suicide march with Chucky and the girl’s club Crooked Hillary Clinton, Wacko, ditsy, shut down evil Wall Street, Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren, Pelosi, Naaaaasty Nancy, The San Francisco Treat, “Impeach Him Today” Maxine Waters, SCOTUS to rule for the little people in ways Congress won’t pass Dianne Feinstein, DC Dream Land Eleanor Holmes Norton, etc.

    So, it’s Chucky playing with the girls’ club. Now with Obama’s rulings on showers, Chucky can shower with the girls — which of those girls would anyone want to shower with?

    Chucky, buddy, raise your glasses and take a good look — they are not exactly the Fox Babes! And those faces; f’get about the showers; how about those hysterical, screaming faces! Who would want to be in the same building with any of those, much less the same shower?

    So, for now, it’s not (A) but (B) which is also major progress.

  2. Greetings, JLM! First and foremost, this was a flawed strategy from the get go, though to your point a hard deadline accomplished nothing but boxing Trump in. The GOP currently has 237 House members, the Dems 193. The Donald had roughly 213 GOP members (or 90%) in his pocket, yet he focused on trying to mollify obstinate hardliners rather than appealing to and converting a small base of moderate Dems. He only needed to convert roughly 12% of Dem members to get this pig to fly. Lesson #1: You can’t “drain the swamp” by pursuing a silo-ed agenda when your alleged base is fractured. That should have been painfully obvious and it wasn’t. Amateur hour.

    • .
      Hello, Salty.

      In the end, all that matters is results. So from that perspective the results are a failure and failure is an orphan while victory has unlimited parents. We learn more from failure than we do from easy victory.

      If I had to put a finger on anything it would be:

      1. DJT trusted Paul Ryan to get the job done. Ryan told him he could and five days out said he had the votes. He was, of course, horribly wrong and he totally miscalculated what the Freedom Caucus was willing to consider.

      2. The Freedom Caucus — 32 members currently with Mick Mulvaney taking a position in the administration — has been extremely powerful. They were the ones who engineered the ouster of Boehner.

      I point their power out because they should not have been a surprise to anybody who has followed their formation two years ago and their actions since then.

      Another way to look at it is this:

      Dems – 193
      Reps – 205
      FC – 32

      The Republicans only have a majority to the extent they can drag the Freedom Caucus into the fold, which the FC has been pretty clear about. They can only be brought in with policy which meets their very real and obvious requirements.

      3. The Freedom Caucus was an outgrowth of the Republican Study Group which was a conservative caucus which grew a little hidebound.

      When the Freedom Caucus was formed, it embraced brand new conservative Representatives and some old hands. It did not want to be part of the RSG, which they viewed as being too closely affiliated with the lapdog GOPe.

      4. Ryan was and is a policy wonk. He was the one who really understood the “budget reconciliation” process which was the secret sauce which both made it possible to get rid of Obamacare (knowing they could not get a cloture vote in the Senate while a simple majority could enact legislation as long as it fell under the heading of “budget reconciliation”) and which required it to be broken into three tranches.

      5. The Freedom Caucus was always necessary to get the deal done because of the simple numbers. While they have 32 votes wedded at the hip, they also have a ton of loose affiliates who use them as the imprimatur for being a proper “conservative.”

      All of the critics who identified Trumpcare as Obamacare Lite were correct — as it related to the first tranche. Subsequent tranches would have disabused everyone of this notion.

      6. A big flaw in the sales job was not relying on the provision that it would be phased in over a two year period. Nobody was going to lose anything if properly phased in. Nobody. Ryan never got this out there.

      7. Ryan cannot be the leader of a group if part of the group can go negotiate directly with the President without the invitation or inclusion of the Speaker.

      8. You may be selling Pres Trump short — oh, Hell, of course you are — because when you build high rises, you deal with zoning commissions, planning boards, and city councils. You never win the first round, but you negotiate sufficiently to ultimately get a building permit.

      Every 50 story building I ever built started as a 72 story project from which I bartered floors to get the approvals.

      Ryan and Pres Trump were nuts to try to get this done in 60 days. They should have just started working and said, “It’ll be done when it’s done and not before.”

      This is actually a very good toughening process for the Trump administration. Sort of like Kasserine Pass. Now, they know what they’re up against.


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