Harvey Specter It – Do everything right, until you deliver, then just keep delivering

I say to Ken: “My boss doesn’t really worry about my time, as long as I deliver”

Ken replies: “Ahh, you Harvey Specter’d it.”


“Well, when he started,  he arrived early, left late, did everything right, until he delivered. Then he kept delivering, after you deliver nobody tracks or cares about you do, as long as you keep delivering.”

I was told there are two types of jobs. The first is time based, the second is task based. A few years ago I realised there is a third, deliverables based.

Unintended consequences 

A lot of jobs are really deliverable based, which is why I find it strange that legal and audit firms monitor employee performance in terms of utilisation (% of chargeable hours worked). I don’t understand why the goal to spend as much time working on client work as possible, the objective is to get the most out of the staff, but there is the power of unintended consequences based on expectation theory.

We want a certain result, so we think how can we get the targeted behaviour, so we think of an incentive to drive that behaviour. It is seldom questioned backward, if that is the incentive, what behaviour does that drive. The goal comes at the expense of the desired outcome.

“I don’t get lucky, I make my own luck.” – Harvey Specter

A better approach is to Harvey Specter it.

  1. Arrive early, leave late, work harder than expected. Only when it is needed, not out of habit.
  2. Say yes to everything (at first).
  3. Develop career capital until you are so good, they can’t ignore you.
  4. Move from average to good to excellent – the effort is the same.
  5. Deliver and keep delivering.

These are all steps to help you become someone who delivers, then once you deliver consistently. There is no need to clock watch. No need to pretend work. No need to manage perception. You can focus on what is important. The metric you are measured on is how smart you work, not how many hours.

It takes hard work, in the words of Harvey – “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” It’s amazing how much work goes into becoming an overnight success.

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