Friday, February 22, 2008

Defining "Prompt"

The question came up the other day of what constitutes a prompt response to a problem.

If the matter is important but not urgent, then starting the response process within a couple of weeks may be acceptable.

If the matter is urgent and important then responding within a day may be fine.

But if there is a safety or a major, long-term, and possibly irreversible, threat, then responding in an hour may be too long.

It's important to distinguish between these areas for two reasons: You don't want to be too late in dealing with a lethal threat and you don't want to rush a decision on a matter that is neither lethal nor demanding immediate attention. There is a huge difference between a situation that requires "action now" - as Churchill used to describe many of his directives during the Second World War - and ones where we would be better advised to remember former Secretary of State George P. Schultz's admonition to "Don't just do something, stand there."


At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Sort of like trying to define "ASAP'
When someone asks me for a design, or estimate, my final question is when do you need it. If they say "ASAP", I ask them to give me a date.
I'd rather have a goal than an open ended commitment...

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Michael Wade said...


Absolutely. I've seen people who define ASAP as "In a month or two."


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