The Logic of Procrastination and the Last Responsible Moment

I had a good friend in a previous job who had this unbelievable procrastination habit. He would always wait to start his tasks as late as possible. But this was not because he was busy. He intentionally waited to begin working as close as possible to the deadline. I asked him to explain his behavior, and then he said:

“It is stupid to work on your tasks as soon as possible. Many of your tasks will simply be canceled before you finish them. Others will be postponed because their priority will be changed. And most tasks will have their requirements changed. So, by waiting to work on my tasks as late as possible, I am avoiding lots of wasted time and efforts.”

Depending on the culture of your workplace, this makes complete sense. Thanks to his procrastination principle, my friend was able to avoid:

  • Working on tasks that will be canceled.
  • Working on tasks that will be postponed.
  • Implementing requirements that will be changed.

This is very aligned with the Last Responsible Moment principle of Lean Software Development:

“A strategy of not making a premature decision but instead delaying commitment and keeping important and irreversible decisions open until the cost of not making a decision becomes greater than the cost of making a decision.”

In the case of my friend, he was not only avoiding making premature decisions. He was eliminating waste by understanding that, in his particular environment, the nature of his tasks was very ephemeral.

How frequently will you face such situations, in which your tasks are canceled, postponed or changed? That depends on your role and the culture of the company you work for. As illustrated in the Dilbert’s cartoon below…

dilbert architect

About Hayim Makabee

Veteran software developer, enthusiastic programmer, author of a book on Object-Oriented Programming, co-founder and CEO at KashKlik, an innovative Influencer Marketing platform.
This entry was posted in Agile, Efficacy, Lean Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Logic of Procrastination and the Last Responsible Moment

  1. Jim Kendall says:

    Well, you *may* have been talking about me!
    I have learned through the ages how TRUE some of those situations are.
    I usually write a bunch of “supporting” documentation,flowcharts…etc ( yeah,I use old-style flowcharts ) and wait to see how bad requirements are going to be altered.
    Usually, this technique works pretty well, but you *do* need to be willing to put in the time near the end, to make sure everything is done…because once things are truly finalized, you are playing “catch-up”.
    The other problem….which is bigger in a way……is that you are NEVER ready for a show-and-tell.Your stuff is nowhere near ready until the last stake of requirements is driven into the ground.
    This cost me a nice contracting job once, but that’s a story on its own.

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