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DT’s Tower: Trust and the Boy Who Cried ASAP

With the tickets for the Trust Conference 2014 going on sale this month and my last blog post about the power of ONE, my mind has been bouncing between applying Trust and the best way to get things done.

One of my little pet niggles is ASAP or A.S.A.P.  We all know that on the surface ASAP stands for ‘As Soon As Possible’ (or humorously ‘As Slow As Possible’).  Some of us pedants might also know that ASAP is a military acronym first appearing in print from Captain Annis G. Thompson’s account of the Korean War, The Greatest Airlift, 1954:

“Emergency drops required no paperwork, merely a telephone call from the 8th Army in Korea. Most drops were made on an ASAP or ‘as soon as possible’ basis.”

So the root of ASAP is connected to an emergency situation.  Re-prioritise everything with this at the top,.  The problem I have with ASAP is that it is waaaaay overused.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone else… but I’m trying!

What ASAP REALLY means

When we say ASAP we want it to mean urgent.  As in now.  Yet not many of us in business work in a military environment.

‘As Possible’ is open to a degree of interpretation.

Is that ‘your possible’?  Or is that ‘my possible’?

If we mean ‘my possible’ then that destroys trust as the key quality of transparency is missing.  We are not thinking about the other person’s timetable or schedule.  It also breaks flow in the same way a massive rock falling into a stream disrupts the flow of water.  This creates stress.

Then multiply this by the number of people who use it i.e. everyone.  How do you prioritise multiple ASAPs?  Is it really a matter of life or death if these ASAPs aren’t done now?  Also think about how often someone might hear ASAP.  That is going to diminish the importance of the phrase…

‘Oh yeah?  You want it ASAP?  Cool, I’ll just put that behind all the other ASAPs that are needed this morning.’

😉

Well what about ‘your possible’?  I have to admit this is how I use/ take it most often.  And I’m a Lord.  Unless you light a fire under me (and give me some detail baby!) I will review the schedule, consider the possibilities and consequences, set a deadline and then move on.  Its unlikely I’ll let you know when I have set the deadline as I have done EXACTLY what you have asked.  This will be done ‘As Soon As Possible’ for me.

Problem is this breaks trust as well.  There is the disconnect between your expectation of ‘possible’ and my expectation of ‘possible’.  Someone is going to end up being disappointed.

Where ASAP REALLY comes from

To my shame I have used ASAP.  I haven’t come from a military background.  I have never had to use ASAP in a life or death situation.

And I’m guessing neither have you. 😀

When I have used ASAP it is usually because I haven’t thought about when I realistically need it.  I just want it done quickly so I can scratch it off my to do list… which probably has more than ONE thing on it 😉

Yet ironically, if a little time is taken to apply a deadline that works for both, this builds trust.  A specific date and time shifts the request from ‘what needs to be done’ to ‘how it needs to be done’.  This means that it will more likely to be done when it needs to be done.

Which in turn deepens trust.

So this is your chance to confess, like me!  Have you ever used ASAP without thinking about it?  Is there a time where ASAP should be used?

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