Picture the heated discussion in the pressroom with headstrong journalists and opinionated editors, all very passionate and dedicated professionals that do not shy away from intellectual discourse and political arguments. How are they able to produce a dally newspaper? I once asked this question to an editor of a leading business newspaper and after some thought his answer was: the deadline.
The deadline as the organising principle. Everybody can discuss everything, have opinions, by the time of the deadline there has to be edited, quality texts, headlines and pictures.
Eric Schmid recently said the something similar about Google: discord and deadline as an important management principle.
It is a fascinating concept: stimulate a culture of challenge and wild, intensely discussed ideas and impose a deadline, the point in time where things have to be resolved. And after the delivery, the cycle towards the next deadline can start again.
This idea of dynamic and order can be applied in many facets of the organisation. It is the art of building deadlines in an organisations, the equivalent of the printing press. And of establishing a free atmosphere that stimulates discussion, free thinking and creativity, the equivalent of a French salon where people discussed their views freely.
Deadlines can have various forms, such as the spring and autumn shows of big fashion labels, the seasonal program of a theater or the advertising campaign before Easter. Organisation that not have this kind of deadline connected to the nature of their business, can impose self-created deadlines on themselves, such as the more or less set dates for Apple to release new products (ipods always for the holiday season).
These deadlines should be the stimulant for creativity and not a straightjacket that inhibits free interactions. It takes some practice to get that right. But beauty does not come easy.