Dealing with Unrealistic Deadlines

A team does some estimating and says something like, “We can’t complete all these features you’ve asked for by the scheduled release date.”

And then a leader says, “But we must!” And the team is like, “Ok. Now it’ll fit.” 

But nothing has changed! The “But we must!” pronouncement didn’t make the work smaller. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.

In this mailbag episode, Richard and Peter answer the question:

“Our boss is pushing us to deliver a big project on a timeline that feels impossible. Saying we can’t do it feels like a bad career move. How do we deal with unrealistic timelines?”

Spoiler alert… The right answer is neither “Just agree” nor “Just say ‘no’.”