Procrastination and C. Northcote Parkinson

I was sitting here thinking about what my next topic would be, but I kept putting off getting started. Maybe it was because I just didn’t feel the urgency of writing a new article yet. Some of the topics and articles seem to flow so easily that I begin to think that I might actually be getting the hang of this writing thing. Then others, like this one seem to require significant effort in order to perform their extraction and conversion into cogent thought. When that happens, I do the only logical thing. I procrastinate.

The fact that I was just sitting here trying to avoid writing something got me to thinking of the story of John Lennon when he was in the throes of writing the classic Beatles tune “Nowhere Man”: He said that he was “…lying there trying to write a song and was getting nowhere, man” and it hit him. The rest is musical genius and history. If I should ever be so fortunate as to possess one tenth the talent for writing that he had in his little finger, in my entire body I would count myself lucky. None the less it did give rise to my self examination of why I was having any sort of writers block.

Those of you that know me have often stated that usually I don’t know when to keep my mouth shut. You should be smiling at my difficulty at finding something, in this case the right thing to say.

What I did come up with is that C. Northcote Parkinson, the author of “Parkinson”s Law” was correct when he postulated:

         “Work expands to fill available time.”

The logical corollary, which I will modestly dub: “Gobeli’s Corollary” is:

“Procrastination reduces the perceived amount of work done by reducing available time for it to expand into.”

Think about it. I believe it explains a lot about who we are and why so many of the businesses, and for that matter so many of the political institutions that we have, operate the way they do. It is also probably at least partly responsible for the deadline mentality we seem to have evolved to. If you know that work will expand to fill all available time that it is given, the obvious solution to getting more work done is to provide a deadline that gives less time for each assignment to get done in.

I think we are also all familiar with the relationship between procrastination and “cramming”. We learned it early, probably in high school or college. Instead of spending a little time each day studying, we save it all for the last day or two before the exam. Why study every day when we can study really hard at the end and probably get the same result. We seem to have evolved this concept into our working structures now as well. We have even codified it as an accepted method of reducing the time required to compleat our projects. It’s called “Crashing”. We no longer work on our assignments ahead of time, or a little bit each day. Instead we wait till the deadline looms and then try to kick it directly into high gear.

We also see this type of work process with our current federal legislature. They are so good at procrastinating, and have recognized their own predilection for it, that they have had to create their own either artificial or real deadlines in order to get anything done. As a result we seem to be lurching from one crisis (read: deadline) to the next. This process does seem to keep the talking heads on the various news channels happy as they now have a continuous flow of issues to talk about, but is probably not the most efficient way to get things done.

I once worked a company where they had evolved a similar culture. They knew that they were excellent at managing in a crisis. The only problem was that they evolved to a point where everything had to be a crisis in order to get anything done. Being in a continual crisis mode does have a tendency to wear out the team. To think of it in sports terms, imagine a football team running their “Two Minute” offense for every play of every game for the entire season. It might work for a while, but the wear and tear on the team will eventually cause them to break down.

Gobeli’s Corollary would have us believe that by procrastinating, we would actually end up having to do less work. We seem to believe that doing two days of non-stop hard work is less work than doing an hour or so of less intense work across the term of a two week assignment. That logic just escapes me. For a culture that loves to multi-task while on conference calls, we seem to eschew the opportunity to multi-task on our longer term work assignments. Go figure.

I know I probably sound like a broken record (an interesting allusion since for all intents and purposes records are largely extinct and have been replaced by CDs and MP3s) but I am convinced that a lot of this crisis process is the result of our recognition and reward structures in business. Since we are largely working in “crisis” mode due to looming deadlines, we seek out those who can work well under this kind of pressure. I have referred to them in the past as fire fighters.

These are the “go to” staffs that are relied on to meet the deadline. They receive the recognition and rewards for being able to deliver in the clutch. It seems that those who practice “fire prevention” by taking steps ahead of time to complete their assignments in a non-crisis mode, do not garner as much management attention and perceived respect. The net result is that it doesn’t seem to pay to do the job efficiently and ahead of time. If you want to get noticed, you need a crisis.

And how do you get a crisis? You procrastinate.

So while Parkinson’s Law says that work expands to fill available time and Gobeli’s Corollary says that Procrastination reduces the perceived amount of work needed by reducing available time, there might also be a logical extension here regarding the relative rewards associated with “crisis work” as opposed to doing the same work in an orderly, non-crisis oriented manner. Perhaps the corollary should also incorporate an extended axiom:

“Work becomes more visible to and seems to be more valued by managers as proximity to the deadline grows”

That would play well with the observation that managers seem to recognize the contributions of fire fighters more so than the same contributions associated with those who perform the same work in non-crisis situations, and also explains why so many people seem to procrastinate in doing their assignments until they approach crisis proportions. It has been my experience that business leaders neither value the work of fire fighters more nor procrastinate to crisis levels. They get the work done on time because they know that they do not need to create crises of their own. There will be enough business issues for them to deal with.

Wow. And I got all this because I didn’t yet feel the urgency in having to come up with an article topic and getting written down. I suppose I should also say that I actually had two or three other articles already written, and though I was procrastinating there was probably a good reason why I wasn’t feeling the urgency to get this one done. I guess this early preparation thing can be a two edged sword.

Trade Shows

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to address the topic of trade shows. It must have something to do with the number of them that I have attended and the somewhat painful (read “aching”) memories they engender.  I can remember my then excitement at being assigned to attend my first trade show and to man my specific technology aspect of the corporate tradeshow booth. It has been many years, and many many trade shows since that first trade show. For whatever reasons I don’t seem to go to them nearly as often anymore, but that won’t stop me from discussing their usefulness to both the displaying company and attending individuals.

Trade shows are really expensive undertakings for businesses. There are registration fees, and floor space rental fees (usually by the square foot), and then there are the costs associated with the creation of the booth or display. If there are live products or demonstrations in the booth there is the cost of that equipment that must be added to the bill. There are the communications and connectivity requirements and costs. There is also the travel and living costs associated with the people who will man the booth as well as the salaries that they are paid while at the show. Finally there is an opportunity cost of what other things you could have been doing with all the money and people that were applied toward attending the trade show.

When you add it all up, like I said it gets very expensive. If you are going to spend that kind of money and commit those kinds of resources, one would expect that there would be a significant return on those investments.

At first I thought attending a trade show as an exhibitor was going to be an interesting business experience. Then I attended one. When I was contemplating the prospect of attending the show I had forgotten that I was going to have to stand on a concrete floor for eight to ten hours a day without the ability to sit down, dealing with the people who came into our booth, who may or may not have been customers or potential customers, or who may or may not have been competitors looking for information, and all the time look like I was enjoying myself.  This may be possible for the first day. It is very improbable to do for the entire second day. And darn near impossible to do for almost any part of the third or any subsequent days thereafter.

Then once the exhibit hall is closed for the night you would think that would be the opportunity to rest and recover for the next day’s ten hour booth march. That would be wrong. In most instances there was a corporate hospitality suite that you were expected to spend time in and be available for questions and inputs from executives or the sales team when they actually had a real customer available that wanted to discuss your product. This too could go on for quite a while, but at least there was usually a chair available where you could sit down from time to time. There was also usually food and drinks available, but like when your parents threw a party when you were a kid, it was supposed to be for the guests.

After you had done your time at the hospitality suite, and the crowds had begun to thin out, you could then go back to your hotel room. If you were lucky it was at the same location as the exhibit hall or hospitality suite. More than likely you had to go to another more distant location. You could then look forward to doing it all over again the next day. It was not quite as glamorous as I had initially thought it would be.

In looking at the relative value to the business of attending a trade show, it usually came down to what kind of a show it actually was. If it was an industry forum or association that was sponsoring the show, then the value was basically that of being an opportunity to use the forum as a platform for whatever product or business announcements that the company wanted to make. The actual number of “customers” that attended these shows was minimal and in fact most of the booth traffic was competitors strolling around looking at the competition and collecting each booth’s “trinkets and trash” that were being given away, and the industry press and writers strolling around asking a few questions so as to justify their attendance as well as collecting the trinkets and trash giveaways. The only way that a large exhibitor would be noticed at one of these shows would be if they decided to save the money and not attend. They would then be conspicuous only in their absence.

The more focused trade shows, be it regional or business aspect in nature were those where the exhibitors and attendees had more in common than just being in the same industry, seemed to have a little more value to the business in that the one incremental level more of specificity assures that there are attendees on both the demand and supply side of the trade show topic. These are typically the trade shows where business is actually conducted as opposed to the larger industry shows are basically announcement forums.

The bottom line was that it seemed that the larger the trade show, the less valuable to the company or its customers for business, but more the value for visibility. The smaller the trade shows the better for customers and companies to do business. The question for all companies and large tradeshows is: How valuable is visibility? What can companies now afford to spend just for “being there”? It is interesting to look at the reduction in the number of large technology industry trade shows over the years as companies have come to grips with this question.

For the individuals manning the booths at either of these types of trade shows, the value truly lies in the opportunity to network with people in the same industry. Making contact with suppliers, competitors and customers within both the appropriate technology and market segments may not provide immediate benefits but it will provide them longer term.

It took me a long time to learn this fact. Just trading and collecting business cards is a waste of time and your business cards. If you are going to make the effort to trade business cards, make the effort to follow up and reach out to make contact. It really doesn’t take that much effort. I wish I had learned this fact in time to put it into execution then. I didn’t, and those new contact opportunities were lost.

There is also the opportunity to reestablish connections and relationships with old friends and past business associates. In today’s business environment it seems that more of our friends move on to new opportunities with other companies. While industries may be considered very big, they are in reality reasonably small and tight knit when it comes to relationships. The ability to maintain older contacts and gain new ones has to be the primary value to individuals who attend tradeshows. That, and learning the ability to stand on your feet, smile and try to have intelligent discussions for ten hours at a time.

It’s been a while since I have actually attended or manned a booth at a trade show. It could be said that it has been so long since I have been at one that I might actually look forward to attending one in the future. I didn’t say that was the case. I just said that it could be said. Trade shows are much more work than anybody who has not been to one would believe. They are not the two drink minimum professional equivalent of a fraternity all-nighter that many have believed them to be. Maybe they are for some; it’s just that I never seemed to have the ability or where withal to be able to stand in a booth all day and then go out all night at one of these venues. However by understanding the value to both the business and the individuals who attend the trade show you will be better able to quantify the benefits to both by attending.


If there is one word that should strike fear in the heart of business leaders it should be the word “process”. Please don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for and support the idea of some form and amount of standardization of business conduct. There are efficiencies that can be gained. A certain amount of uniformity of methodology will remove customer variability and should improve satisfaction. I get it. But as the old saying goes: Too much of a good thing is bad, and process is no exception.

Simply put processes are defined as a sequence of events. They are a model of the flow of how things should be done in an optimum environment. The idea being that by establishing a process for an aspect of a business you will remove unwanted variance from the way the business operates. Reduced variance should mean more consistent performance and increased efficiency in the business. Consistent performance and increased efficiencies should lead to more satisfied customers and more profitable operation. What’s not to like about that?

Process was initially introduced into the manufacturing or production environment, where the variation in the end product produced was an undesirable outcome. The idea was to assure that each product was manufactured the same way with a resulting uniformity in the output. This uniformity of output or outcomes seems to be the driving force behind the drive to apply process science to non-production oriented business functions.

If a little bit of process formalization delivers significant returns, then a full scale push toward total business process formalization should be the answer to all our business needs, right?  This direction leads you down the path toward higher order, more complex controls and processes, and as many of the old maps would indicate about uncharted territory, “here there be danger”. The problem is that as the process gets more complex in its efforts to be more broadly applicable, it becomes more cumbersome to document, follow and apply. This necessitates a greater process staff whose task it is it to marshal the process to assure that it is being followed.

By creating a process staff you are now introducing another drag on the business. The process staff is not focused on achieving the goal. They are focused on how you go about achieving the goal. Incremental staff associated with documenting and implementing the process means incremental costs that must now also be offset by additional process efficiencies before the business improvement driven by the process can contribute in a positive manner to the business performance. We now find ourselves in the position where the law of decreasing returns comes into play. The more we depend on the process for improvement, the more people we must have to support the process. The more people we have supporting the process the more improvement the process must provide in order to overcome the incremental costs associated with the increased number of people supporting the process.

Circular logic now ensues. The process gets bigger trying to drive more savings. More people are required to sustain the process. The process has to get even bigger to cover the extra costs of the incremental people.

The major issue that I have with processes is that as they evolve and grow and become bigger, more complex and more all encompassing, they have a tendency to become too focused on how things are being done and seem to lose their focus on the objective of what is being done.  Business is about getting things done. If you can get more things done, and done right than your competitor you should have a competitive advantage. When you start to expend increasingly greater amounts of resources on how you should get things done as opposed to the quantity of resources focused on actually getting things done you have probably hit the point of decreasing returns for your process investment.

The idea of process and process refinement came about when the market was primarily involved in a production and production worker environment. As we have evolved into a knowledge and knowledge worker environment we still seem to be increasingly focused on formulating and formalizing the way we want our knowledge workers to work. We are in effect trying to dictate the way our knowledge workers use their knowledge. This also seems fundamentally flawed to me.

Henry Ford ushered in the mass production process when he stated anyone could have a car in any color they wanted, as long as it was black. He built the ultimate no variability process. He built black model A’s. And that worked for a while. Mass production gave way to mass customization in the manufacturing environment. At one point not too very long ago you could buy any combination of features and colors on just about any car model you wanted.

 It was during this period that a number of car companies started going out of business as their processes, amongst other issues had become too cumbersome to be profitable. The process that worked well for the simple did not hold up as well for the multiplicity of options or the complex. And so the pendulum began to swing back toward far fewer and more simple groups of options or option packages, in order to reduce option complexity. This seems to be the current status of the production process in the automotive industry.

It appears that knowledge worker processes are still going through the “mass customization” stage of application. It seems that the processes themselves are becoming more complex in an effort to address the multiplicity of variables that are present in the knowledge worker environment. We are creeping ever closer to potentially strangling ourselves with the very processes that we hoped would be our profitability generating salvation.

Processes need to provide guidelines on how to deal with the known as well as unknown in business. They need to have enough specificity to provide direction, but also need to allow those that are working within them the ability to vary and adapt them to the changing needs of the customer, company and environment. One size process cannot fit all unless it is so big and so complex as to be able to handle all variables present in the business. Why would you want to build a process, or a model of how you are to conduct business that is as complicated as the real business is? Processes are supposed to simplify things, not mirror their complexity.

We need to keep our processes simple, the staffs associated with them minimal, and allow enough flexibility so that those operating within the process can react and adapt to new situations. Trying to expand the process to work in every instance of business inevitably leads to increased complexity and decreased returns for the effort.


A necessary evil in today’s business world is the resume. It is the document where you must distill down all that you have accomplished since high school into no more than two self aggrandizing pages, and yet still be enthralling to the reader. It is one of the few documents on the planet where both form and substance are required, and where lacking either can immediately land it in the trash can. It is a living document which must be continually updated with the latest catch-phrases and Boolean search words to enable its easier location on the web by automated search programs. While being no acknowledged expert in the field, I have been on both the sending and receiving end of a boatload of resumes. I’ll share some of my findings and views.

The color of your resume does not matter, unless you choose a color other than white for your paper or electronic background, and black for your ink. I am not the only one that feels this way. I have checked this one out with some of my recruiter and head-hunter friends. Beige or pastel colored paper will in fact stand out in a stack or resumes. Beige or pastel colored resumes will remain in the resume stack. It’s a professional document for goodness sakes. The only reason that the Declaration of Independence is on yellowed paper is because the paper has aged to that color. Once your resume hits two hundred plus years of age it too can be on yellowed paper, but until then, print it on white paper.

The length of your resume does matter. A one page resume tells people that either you have not tried hard enough to write a viable resume, or that you do not have enough experience or qualifications for the job you are applying for. That would go for any job you were applying for. A three page or longer resume would indicate that you are truly enthralled with your own capabilities and accomplishments to the point where you couldn’t possibly bear to remove even a single event in your life from the document in order to better respect the readers time. Trust me on this. Nobody’s life is so awe inspiring so as to require more than two pages on a resume.

Provide information on your areas of expertise and the things that you actually can do. A historical list of the things you have done is nice, but it won’t get this job done, nor will it get you this job. It is a slight difference in approach and voice in your resume, but providing information on what you know how to do is much more compelling then reciting a list of the places you have been and the things that you did while you were there.

Front load your resume. Provide more detail and information on your most recent assignments and positions. I understand that you have done some really neat stuff twenty plus years ago. I did too. But there is a thing called currency as it relates to your experience. If your best stuff is twenty years old then it is possible that your business skills may be considered out of date.

Tell people what it is that you do. If you are looking for a sales role, then just about everything in your resume should scream sales. There should be few if any sentences in your resume that do not have the word “sales” in them. The more specific you can be about what you do, and what you can do, the more appreciative the reader of your resume will be. The easier that it is for the reader to understand if you are a fit for the position or not, the better it is for everyone, especially you.

Quantify what value you have brought to previous positions and what value you can bring to this position. Value is relatively easy to identify. It is usually represented by an ordinal number, which is preceded by a dollar sign. If you can’t put a number and a dollar sign next to it, it probably isn’t of value. It may seem harsh, but it is the current business environment.

Don’t tell anyone that you led a cross functional team, even if you actually did at one time. Cross functional teams are management speak for some sort of committee that met on a regular basis. Mark Twain described a committee as a life form with at least six legs and no brain. Organizations seem to be increasingly fond of creating them, and people seem to be intent on telling each other that they were either on them or leading them, but I nor anyone else I have ever known has ever seen any value delivered in a quantifiable way to a business from a cross functional team. You are wasting valuable space on your two pages with this one.

Don’t tell anyone that you enabled anything. Leaders don’t enable things. They do things. I understand that enablement is a nice sounding concept. There are very few instances where it has quantifiable business value. You either did it or you didn’t. Please don’t try and convince people that you enabled someone else to do it. At best it sounds lame and at worst it sounds like you are trying to appropriate someone else’s success.

Many resumes like to make mention of the fact that the individual is a “team player”. When reviewing resumes, most hiring managers are not looking for team players. They are looking for stars. In sales they are looking for someone that will bring in orders, preferably boat loads of them. In operations they are looking for someone that will deliver revenue and control costs. Most of the time a team player is not the type of individual that can perform these functions. If you can do extraordinary things, tell people in your resume. Don’t tell them you are a team player.

Have someone else read your resume before you submit it. Most of us are somewhat blind to our own mistakes. We wrote it. We reviewed it. Therefore it should be fine, right? Unfortunately, no. Have someone else read your resume and provide you their opinion. When they do, don’t argue with them. I too have felt that people have missed both the obvious and the nuanced aspects of my resume. I have also come to realize that if they have missed it, probably so will the recruiter and hiring manager miss it. Take the feedback. A resume is a personal item, but it is for public consumption and may need to be adjusted from a specific individual taste.

The two pages that comprise a resume are precious real estate. All of your education, training and experience to date need to be distilled down into those two pages. You need to convey what you are capable of and the value that you can bring to a prospective hiring manager. With that in mind you surely do not want to waste space by relating banalities such as being a team player, enabling others to succeed or were on some sort of aggrandized committee.

As I said, resumes are a necessary evil. They are the convention that businesses use when reviewing potential candidates for positions. Unfortunately they are also the basis for the first in a number of decision criteria and hurdles that are designed to winnow out the perceived unfit or the perceived less competent for the position. Unless you are a Nobel laureate or some other similarly gifted applicant, chances are that your resume will not get you the job. However if your resume is not in the appropriate format and does not contain relevant content it can preclude you from further consideration for the job.

The Impossible

There comes a time in everyone’s career where you are going to be asked to do something that just can’t be done. It’s impossible, and “ask” is a euphemism for “told”. Like the game show “Jeopardy” where the answer is usually put in the form of a question. That doesn’t change the fact that just because you were “asked” doesn’t mean that you have the option to decline the request. You don’t. Regardless of how the directive has been phrased, you have been given an objective. On the first blush it looks like you have been asked to do the impossible. It’s time to get out the blue tights and red cape and get to work.

The art of the impossible is an interesting study in business. When first presented with an impossible task most managers are at a loss as to how to proceed. And as with any major loss there are five stages of grief associated with impossible assignments:

  1. Denial and Isolation. When this initial stage hits, resist the desire to grab the impossible goal assigning manager by the lapels, shirt or throat and shake them while stating the goal is in fact impossible to achieve. This will get you both talked about and visited by HR.

  2. Anger. While the description of Denial and Isolation may sound like anger, it’s not. Anger is what will happen when you sit down and really think about what you have been asked to do. Resist the impulse to scream, throw things and generally trash your office. This too will get you talked about and visited by HR.

  3. Bargaining. Now we are starting to get somewhere. This is the first step in starting to regain control of the situation. Start to explore timeframes, staff and budgets associated with the assignment. What do you have to work with?

  4. Depression. Depression will set in once you understand that you will not have enough time, people or money to accomplish the impossible. You probably won’t even have enough resources to accomplish the difficult or unlikely, let alone the impossible.

  5. Acceptance. The die is cast. You have your orders. You understand your constraints. There is nothing else for you to do but to get to work on the problem. Good luck. The vice president of the business unit will disavow any knowledge of the assignment. This memo will self destruct in five seconds.

When given an impossible assignment it is good idea to remember a few things before you get started. The first is that managers are usually creatures of habit. Leaders are not. This means that impossible assignment managers are limited in their scope and approach when it comes to the types of goals they assign. They only think the assignment is impossible. That’s why they gave it to you instead of solving it themselves. When given the impossible assignment understand from where the assignment was generated, and then quickly dismiss any associated approaches or scope. Incrementing an existing process or method will not get you from existing status quo to new and impossible.

Remember that while most businesses are prone to prattling on about how they encourage and embrace change they are in fact significantly risk averse in nature and will only change when forced to, and then only after significant keening and gnashing of teeth. New ideas and approaches on how to conduct business are not usually rapidly accepted to say the least. There is always a desire to see the new proven out before the old will be changed. The accompanying desire is to usually see the new proven out somewhere else first.

A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the way most companies select their Chief Executive Officers. It seems that in order to be a CEO, you must have first been a CEO somewhere else. I look at this as the business equivalent of “Catch – 22” in its circular logic. The idea here seems to be that you have to have done the job in the past in order to be able to do the job now. It doesn’t seem to matter if you were an unsuccessful or ineffective CEO. The fact that you were a CEO enables you to be a CEO somewhere else. I think the same “you have to have done it before you get to do it” approach applies to just about every executive level in an organization as well, not just the CEO.

I have digressed, but only a little.

Impossible assignments are usually impossible only from the standpoint of the existing way of thinking or the existing process. In reality the impossible is usually just something that has not yet been done in the current organization, and because it hasn’t been done before it is assumed to be impossible. Impossible assignments are the genesis and catalysts of change in the organization. When management hits the point where the existing methods of business conduct will no longer deliver the results that are needed, an impossible assignment will result.  Leaders should look for these opportunities. They are the opportunity to prove you can do it before you get to do it.

The impossible requires that you take a step back, before you start going forward. It is the desired end state of the impossible that is the key. Once the desired goal is established, it is the decomposition of the logical steps backwards from that goal that will enable you to breakdown what appears to be an impossible leap in the old process into a number of achievable smaller steps in the new method.

Decomposition in the business world is the breaking down of large and complex issues into smaller, more manageable and less complex issues. Once the impossible issue is broken down into its smaller component, possible and solvable issues, the solution can then start to come into focus. This process is similar to the solving of the complex problem of how do you eat an elephant? The solution is one bite at a time.

Now just because you may have solved the problem and put the plan in place that would appear to enable the impossible objective to be achieved, don’t expect it to be immediately or unanimously embraced. There will be those who either have a stake hold in the existing business structure now or those who were unable to solve the impossible assignment in the past that may be reticent to accept the new approach. They may actually want to fight you to the death before they will accept a change in what they are doing or agree with you.

This is the point where your tenacity and self belief will come into play. If you have done the work, solved the problem and believe in your solution to what was once believed to be but no longer is impossible, you will need to continue to push forward. It may take a sustained force of will to see it through. It will require you to risk your credibility on your belief in your own work. While achieving the impossible may in fact be possible, it is usually never easily implemented or rapidly adopted.

Look for a method to test your approach and solution on a smaller scale to prove it out. No one will have more riding on a successful outcome than you, so you will need to maintain personal oversight and involvement in the test implementation. Most importantly, do not take no for an answer. If you have just succeeded in doing the impossible, are you really going to stop short of success just because someone said no?

The impossible is assigned every day. Solutions to the impossible do not arrive every day. Of the solutions to the impossible that arrive, many do not get successfully implemented because their owner did not have what it took to translate the theory into reality. For those impossible solutions that do get successfully implemented, the owner has now proven that they are now qualified to do the impossible, and should expect more impossible assignments in the future, as a reward.