When you work on a project, what are your standards? Is starting sufficient to meet your expectations? How about creating a beta version? What if the deliverable meets the customer’s expectations but you decided not to complete upgrades that will maximize performance? Where do you stop?
When you operate an airline, is getting the passenger from departure airport to arrival airport sufficient? When does passenger engagement begin and where does it stop? What interactions meet an airline’s standards during the journey? What is the promise you make?
There is a remarkable difference between delivering for the customer’s standard and our own standard? It is important to know which one we have prioritized.
If we head out on a back-country adventure and expect some form of adversity, we can prepare ourselves. A day of high winds, extreme heat, extensive storm system, or some other challenge on the horizon allows us to find our pace and adjust when the events unfold. We seem to do better when we can establish a routine and then amend our course of action. It is more challenging when we cast off in a storm; it is harder to acclimate and find our bearings. Stepping out of a car into sideways rain, cold temperatures, and mud takes a different mindset.
If we can set our expectations in advance, we thrive. It is why we look at the weather report before packing for a trip. Or we search chat forums for insights and suggestions. If we have a reasonable sense of clarity, we can endure further than being hit by the unexpected.
Often, we are happy just to see dishes being placed in the sink. Getting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher is another level of commitment. Clearing the table highlights the 80-20 Rule (80% of the work completed by 20% of the people). Many organizations create board and staff expectation statements that are the equivalent of getting dishes to the sink. Then we hear grumblings about why only one or two people fill the dishwasher. We request names of prospective members and donors but only a few people follow-up by contacting the names on the list. We ask for volunteers to attend a program and the same few individuals offer their time. We ask for network connections and are displeased when only one person offers a suggestion.
We need to write better expectation statements or get comfortable assigning the final actions to complete a task. It is up to us to define the scope of work, why act hostile towards those who thought clearing the table stopped at the sink? We are at our best when we set people up for success.
People come for interactions that they consider remarkable. They want to hear/see/interact with your greatest hits along with the new project that you are working on. Sometimes it feels routine to use your super power to fuel your journey. But we can only make sense of something new when we start from a place we understand. When in Swiss Alps, one expects to here mountain folk music before a new piece is introduced. It provides a point of connection. This is why instructors inquire about our prior experiences before starting their instruction. They wish to create a foundation from where we are, not from some abstract platform that we cannot access. What you are known for may be the very best place to start a new relationship.