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Hackett in Management: “Swiss Cheese” Approach

kansas-leadership-training-wichita-management-programMany of us delay starting an important task by deluding ourselves. We think we need a large block of uninterrupted time to make progress on important projects. The result is procrastination!

The ‘Swiss Cheese’ technique is a great tool to defeat the procrastination that results from trying to schedule or find that large block of time. Essentially, this technique punches holes (like swiss cheese) in a multi task or complex project. This helps the project move from the overwhelming to the reasonable category in terms of execution. It consists of three actions:

  • First, it should be related to an important project, not a routine task.
  • Second, most of the sub tasks should take less than 10 minutes to complete.
  • Third, leading tasks should be used.

A quick example to illustrate this technique. Assume you are extremely busy when your boss alerts you the budget (important project) is due in 7 days. Later that day you have 8 minutes before a meeting. You take that time to copy last year’s budget. You just performed a ‘leading task’, you started! Below illustrates some sub tasks that might relate to further execution (less than 10 minutes each).

Day 1

  • 8 minutes prior to lunch, develop a budget ‘To Do’ list
  • 6 minutes prior to leaving, email key players, delegate tasks


Day 2

  • 9 minutes before staff call, review performance appraisals
  • 10 minutes till conference call, decide on budget merit increases
  • 7 minutes prior training session, review ‘overtime’ data from 2015


As you can see, you are punching holes in this overwhelming task until it dawns on you, ‘two hours of focused efforts completes the budget’. Try this technique and you will find it increases your focus and aids in defeating procrastination. And to learn more tips and tricks for handling time and tasks, check out our class on Managing Time & Multiple Priorities!


Dr. Hackett attended public schools in his native state, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1967 with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. After he felt the call of the classroom, he returned to the University of Oklahoma as a NDEA fellow and received his Ph.D. in Marketing and Management. In 1973, he joined the faculty of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas, as a Professor of Marketing.



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