When it is your job to deliver something, it pays to make sure the expectations are set correctly. Whether it is the time it will take, or the functionality that will be delivered, or the money it will cost, always make sure the expectations are set in your favour.
Let’s consider expectation setting for your customer. Firstly, start the process early in your project. When you are planning your project, assembling your resources, doing your fairy story (see ‘Quantification’) consider yourself in the role of a tradesman, for example Plumber or Garage Mechanic.
When asked how long something will take, or how much it will cost, by management or a customer, perform the following mime:
- Look them in the eye with a furrowed brow and slightly puzzled expression.
- After a few seconds, purse your lips and, placing your right hand on the top of your head, slide it backwards towards your neck, massaging the back of your neck briefly. (you may place your other hand on your hip for effect, but this dual function manoeuvre is not for beginners)
- Now carefully breathe in through your teeth and pursed lips, a slight whistle at this point is good.
- Now tell them the bad news.
Practice this in front of a mirror until you perfect it.
The bad news will depend on how much time you’ve had to prepare. If you are being put on the spot, think of a number and double it at least, as a starting point. However, if you’ve had time to work out the details, double it and have it on a bit of paper, it will always have more credibility.
On the other hand, when you are passing on your expectations to your team, for example, always go the other way. Set their expectation to ensure the team deliver more functionality, earlier or using less resources. This way, you will have some contingency; either time or Slush Fund to play with.