An expeditor facilitates a process by managing handoffs and process flow.
The most well-known example of an expeditor is in a restaurant.
The person who makes sure the crostini and charcuterie board are served first.
The person who keeps the chef on track to ensure that the filet and lobster ravioli are ready at the same time.
The person who adds those finishing touches, just the right amount of au jus christening the plate, that expertly rounded mound of rice, the strategically placed asparagus, that all create a mouth-watering presentation to highlight the expertly prepared meal, adding to the dining experience.
Most of us don’t work in a kitchen (at least we’re not paid for it) or in an environment where an expeditor is a defined role. Yet I can bet that many of us have performance metrics and evaluation rubrics that include phrases like, “delivers results…” “manages change…” and “completes projects.”
And I bet that even more of us have dreams and goals in our personal lives that require some discipline, coordination and alignment to achieve.
Achieving goals both professionally and personally requires an expeditor.
Ah hem…that would be YOU!
Note that this does not mean pushing the change through with lack of buy-in or rushing it so much that what’s delivered isn’t effective.
An expeditor in a restaurant doesn’t rip the steak from the grill and serve it before the chef completes her tasks just for the sake of expediting the order. An expeditor doesn’t arbitrarily assign deadlines or rush others to work more quickly for no reasons.
It’s more nuanced and planned.
The expeditor provides the dual purpose of delivering on time and to spec.
This means knowing how long it takes to cook the steak and alerting the chef when it’s time to begin so that it is completed at the same time as the lobster ravioli. Getting it just right to the diner’s specification of a medium rare steak, that wasn’t removed too soon or did not sit under the warmer too long.
An expeditor takes the time to establish alignment and buy-in.
An expeditor anticipates roadblocks and adds in steps to prevent or address them.
An expeditor sequences activities, assigns deadlines that match and explains dependencies and pinch points to others involved.
The chef trusts that the expeditor has the full list of orders and should follow her guidance. The expeditor can see when diners are chatting longer and during the salad course and adjust the timeline.
Sometimes being an expeditor feels like a thankless job.
Sometimes the tasks of expediting feel negotiable and sit on the back burner as other seemingly urgent matters arise.
But inevitably, if the expediting tasks are compromised, so is the success of whatever it is that you are trying to achieve.
So what can you do to make sure things stay on track?
It’s not rocket science.
Five Easy Steps to Expediting Anything
1. Define Purpose & Scope – explain why, agree on it and stick to it!
2. Focus on Priorities & Deliverables
3. Create a Sequenced Work Flow – with incentives and accountability
4. Track Execution of Tasks & Completion of Milestones
Hint: If you have a fixed time-period that is non-negotiable you can narrow your scope by focusing on the highest priorities and monitoring effort. In tech jargon this is called time-boxed development.
An effective expeditor is often what separates a successful product launch or kitchen remodel vs. development that falls flat or a renovation that drags and drags and never looks quite right.
What are you ready to expedite?
Learning to play guitar?
Revamping the sales curriculum?
Enjoying a cross country road trip?
Go make it happen!
If you are lucky enough to work somewhere with expeditors or project managers or to have a spouse or family member who expedites projects at home, please thank them 😊.