Man jumping from cliff

If this is a new acronym for you, it stands for” Just  – Do It” , with a decorative word in position 2, apparently to impart a sense of non- negotiability to the message.

The first time I heard this term was  many years ago now;  I was working on an early  web selling system which was collapsing under exponential growth of the web 1.0 boom.   Every upgrade and memory boost we threw at it was gone in what seemed like a month, such was the  performance hunger of this new and ill-formed monster.   It was an amazing time.

A retiring Director coming late to the excitement but fancying a last dotcom bullet point on his CV found £2 million,  and decided that the solution was to commission a marketing agency to build a massive screen-scraper website over the top of the existing one.

This was agreed unbeknown to most of IT.   In fact, I recall IT being largely excluded from this cunning  plan because it was they’d built such a flaky system in the first place, and now it was down to the marketing agency to sort it all out.     (this was the marketing agency who – sharing a stellar level of oversight with another globally known supplier – went on to  ‘forget’ to build their web pages to be capable of sending or receiving any data over an API.   It’s made me a fan of ‘early integration’ ever since).

When the enablers of this insanity were challenged by those who could see what life would be like when this thing was up and stumbling , the parroted response around the company was

” We have to, it’s a JFDI”

It was like some magic password I’d never heard before.   People who’d previously seemed rational  were suddenly not.   This was just so clearly not a good idea.

It got done.   Short lived of course, because the outcome was as useless as expected.  The bill for the screen-scraper from the agency was £2 million, coincidentally.

That was my first JFDI, and as a decision making strategy, I’ve held it in deepest contempt ever since.

And yet it lives.   With all the other prioritisation and ranking tools that can be called on to aid rational decision making, even the lamest of which prompts at least a little bit of analysis, JFDI still survives as a thing in 2024.

True, there’s a time and place for it.  If the office paper cupboard was on fire and someone’s dithering about permission to use the extinguisher, then I might actually respond with a JFDI myself.

But not in a commercial decision.   I like to think I’d think about it, or ask someone who knew.

I observe a certain rank and privilege layer in the use of the JFDI method of prioritisation.   A level of operator whose skill transcends the need for analysis or transparency, or whose knowledge and authority renders irrelevant the wisdom of those who have been hired.    Or perhaps someone who just knows, just decides, and doesn’t have time to explain – except perhaps to the bathroom mirror.

I  slightly apologise for the dripping contempt, not even thinly veiled.    Of course there are plenty of projects and jobs that just have to be done; where negotiation or protestation of alternatives serves no useful purpose.   Regulatory changes,  crucial sale periods,  competitor activity, survival strategy – command and control decision making for determining the work to be done is usually the most appropriate here.

But there are better ways of indicating this.     Resonant leadership to align behind a vision, even if the vision is top down with no input invited.   An affiliative approach to provide some checks and balance.   Even just transparency about why a decision was made and why alternatives were not available.   Really, most people will buy it, and almost all will appreciate it.   In this, mostly everyone just wants to feel a bit valued.

So these days if I see one I’m minded to ask, innocent and wide eyed:

Are all JFDIs equal ?  if there’s more than one, does it become JFDT ?

Can anyone have one, and are there a limited number of JFDI slots per year ?

Is DFDI the opposite of JFDI?

How are they ranked  – does her F-JFDI come above or below  his FFS-JFDI  ?

Ah, that contempt again.  You get my view on this by now

My point ?  To sound off, mainly and maybe entertain a little.

And to say :   Seriously, anyone in the position to call JFDI    just …. don’t.

You are way more talented than that.  I know you can do better.=