Meeting expectations, exceeding expectations and all that jazz! It’s often said that success equals performance minus expectations. Three comments on expectations:
1. “Exceed customer expectations’. This mantra has made it into business jargon. We know what it means, but it sounds a bit tired. It clearly depends on what the expectations were in the first place. It also has a quantitative flavour. I expect a 5, I got a 7, exceeded. Ok. And? I prefer ‘Surprise the customer, who did not expect any surprises, in a way that you will become memorable’. Memorable is one of my favourite words.
2. Corporate citizens with a Business Plan, forecast below possibilities so that they can always exceed. The ones who are truly honest often get caught in that honesty and get penalised for not achieving what was a very stretched, perhaps unreasonable budget. They learn the lesson and they promise less next time. The game is a game only if ‘gaming’ is the way to play corporate politics. If the atmosphere is one of true openness and honesty, then there is no game. My second favourite word here is honesty, and shared possibilities. OK, maths are not my forte.
3. Uniformity in the reward system is far from fair, as many people claim and justify. If a division in a very difficult environment achieves 85% of targets, it may deserve more reward than another division in a very easy environment achieving 100%. Expectations need a big qualification to make sense. I don’t believe in a uniform system of expectations. My third favourite word here is fairness is not equality. OK, four words
On the whole, I am always back to my number one favourite: memorable. Given our shorter and shorter memory capacity, with a world of information and communication competing for space 24/7, ‘memorable’ becomes a truly beautiful word.
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