What I’ve Learned in the Past 24 Years (As a Professional) - Slack in the Rope

What I’ve Learned in the Past 24 Years (As a Professional) - Slack in the Rope

We’ve all been there . . . it’s the start of a new big project. For us project management geeks, it’s exciting, like the first day of school!  In the beginning, the project or transaction is well outlined with clear objectives, deadlines, and deliverables! The rope from beginning to end of project is so tight that you could walk on it. Heck, you could run on it! Everyone’s energetic and responsive, there’s a clear vision, there’s a clear plan, there’s a clear timeline, and the KPIs are well-defined!

And with every project, or any big transaction, there comes a point where the team starts to  lose momentum, clarity, and cohesion. In the Mergers & Acquisition world, we call that deal fatigue. In the business world, it’s often midway through the project where a lot of time, energy and money has already been expended, and the final deliverable is still weeks or months away.  I also see this when deadlines are missed (ugh), new variables are introduced (ugh), critical dates are missed (ugh). It’s a malaise. It’s slack in the rope.

That slack in the rope is an opportunity cost, and every day that it persists, there’s a dollar value associated with that opportunity cost.

When you go into a project or transaction with that awareness, you can take steps to ensure that you and your team doesn’t fall victim to it. I would take it a step further to say that, as a leader, or as lead attorney in a transaction, it’s your obligation to tighten up the slack in the rope. It’s to remind people that there is a bigger deadline looming, and that they can and will hit those interim milestones. It takes motivation. It takes creative problem solving. It takes great communication. It takes momentum creation. It takes herding the cats! It’s really driving the deal or the project, and not falling victim yourself to the malaise.

I know you’ve all experienced this. What are some great examples of how you’ve become aware of and tightened up that slack in the rope?  What tools/techniques do you use? I’d love to hear from you!  Until next time, put these values to work in your professional world and enjoy the positive results!