While throwing staff at a project at the last minute is likely to be counterproductive (see Staffing a design project), an imminent project deadline can ignite productive and purposeful chaos that is otherwise hard to generate. Consider the possible accomplishments of the “2-minute offense” or “no huddle offense” that are so well known and widely used during the last minutes of a football game. A scripted sequence of plays may produce effective results in a short time. Deadlines and completion milestones are important for efficiency, because work tends to fill the time available, and it will likely take more hours (and therefore cost more for labor) to do a task without an imminent deadline. Interim or “partial completion” deadlines with well-defined scopes of work and timely, attentive reviews can be helpful in keeping a project on schedule and also on target in terms of design intent. Architecture is like other work when it comes to efficient production.
Mike (see Paint the Color Chip and Mike’s Abridged Edition) offered another idea for managing labor costs on a design project. “If you know you are going to have to work overtime on a project,” he said, “do it in the beginning. It costs less to do overtime when there are only one or two people working on a project.”