Teams: Methodical planners vs. fly-under-the-wire wingers

Methodical planners vs. fly-under-the-wire wingers

For those who like to start and finish tasks early, attempting to make a big dent in the work at the eleventh hour is a recipe for disaster and anxiety. On the other hand, other team members get energized and focused as the eleventh hour approaches; they do their best work flying right under the wire.

Both types provide something vital to the team. The first make great project managers, for example. The second type are often creatives.


Most of us fall somewhere in between on the spectrum — but the trickiest thing is to balance the two extremes so the work gets finished with maximum magic and minimum friction:

  • Set a few mini low-stakes deadlines throughout the project instead of a single big deadline right at the end. So when one of the smaller deadlines gets tripped, there’s a safety net. Do some scenario planning in advance, and create some shared agreements.
  • Be able to determine what projects need the best, most ground-breaking work the team can offer, and what projects can get by on an ordinary quantity of inspiration. This should free those who thrive on deadline panic to work in a more methodical fashion.
  • If you’re a PM — or just a natural planner — paired with a team that likes to produce at the last moment, learn to balance method with madness. Even if the process might appear undisciplined to you at first, it can produce magic. Try to understand the patterns and create predictable processes to manage the unpredictability. This will allow you to “bottle the magic” and make sure that it gets out in the world.
Meiko SeymourComment