The former editor of Harper's explores the psychological underpinnings of expectations and time, the dynamics of teams and customers and techniques for using deadlines to make better, more assured decisions. Case studies include a restaurant opening for the first time, a ski resort covering an entire mountain in snow, a farm growing enough lilies in time for Easter and his own job experience at Best Buy on Black Friday.
Mr. Cox has a wry touch—young workers at Telluride 'looked simultaneously wholesome and grungy, like the black sheep in a Mormon family'—and a good eye for detail ... Mr. Cox sums up his book in seven words: 'Set a deadline, the earlier the better.' Valuable advice, no doubt. Many readers will also appreciate learning that they’ve been suffering from “hyperbolic discounting” all these years, when they had simply assumed they were mere slackers.
... if I was dubious about Cox’s methods I was even more dubious about my own. And though Cox may have learned his tricks as a deadline enforcer, he knows better than to preach without practice. He carefully balances being the oracle who knows what’s best for us—each chapter is summed up with M.B.A.-friendly catchphrases—and the grunt who’s seen the worst ... Cox wants to demystify deadlines in order to defang them, to assure us that if we just tilt our heads we can see our demons as our friends. I can appreciate the benefit of this reimagination, at least when it comes to working with others to reach a greater goal. If someone else is depending on you, then making a deadline, and doing it so early that nobody has a heart attack, or even a palpitation, is a skill worth studying. But I wonder if we might be asking too much of individuals by heralding time constraints—one of the most potent currencies capitalism has for perpetuating itself—as moral guides.