Sunday, 14 April 2013

Expectation management


I've met this term a year ago, did not realize we do this many times. What is expectation management and when we use it?


It's a common term when you deal with clients on a software project. Typical scenario is when client requires a feature, s/he has a nice idea about what the outcome will look like, how it will function - and it fits the proposed deadlines either.
On the other side software is complex system. We use efficient methodologies to shorten down the development cycle by grades. Not kidding. If you look at the world of algorithms. There is this small branch which based on probability. Forgot the name - but one prime test works in a way, that if it fails than the number is 100% not a prime. If it succeed than it's 50% that it's a prime. The next test - using a random generalized - if it's succeed makes the likelihood 75%. Next one will make it 87.5%. But each time there is a chance of total failure. Pretty much that's the way we do development. Better not to ask a coder if his/her product will work without any problems. It won't, I tell you. We just need the optimal rate of trust in code. Anyways. So when a problem or delay happens the customer has to be informed. That's where we try to trick them to believe that the actual delay or problem is not a huge issue. Or simply prepare him to a user experience that will not look like Amazon after one week of sprint.

As a matter of fact people play it a lot. You can see it in politics. To cover an enormous taxation or corruption case it's not rare to fire up some fake news. I've seen it many times - ridiculous regulations were announced - after couple of weeks the owners revoked it - but the same time some less critical laws were accepted. You're more likely to accept 5% salary deduction after an alleged 10%.

See what parents are doing. They ask us to clean our room (preposterous) and take out the garbage. It always feels much better when I can chose between 10 minutes of spanking and taking out the garbage.

Expectation management happens in our private life too. When you wake up the morning and need some extra time. Or you realized you've forgot your charger at home and need to go back. Same when you have no idea what blogpost you should write.
Each of those time you have to admit the severity of the problem. Without feeling all right towards the action will make a lot of unnecessary frustration. The thing is, many times there is no significant difference between the original expectation and the outcome. I still have my horrible topic in my head that I use for the blogpost. I still need to wake up and go home to pick up my charger.

However that's subtle. If you think about dreams, your job in the future, the imaginary 10-years-later-yourself, or any your expected skills. Some may not will be as cool. I needed almost a decade till I realized I'm not gonna be a body builder hero. I'm a geek, I sit. And to be honest that means more to me. Call it the rational mind. It's still expectation management. Just like the irrational expectations of a client - who thinks that a new search page is just 2 clicks and will look like search on Amazon. Yeah, sure.

Expectations are like nails. The longer the nail the bigger the dream. But at the end you hammer it to the wall - only to half length - and put your coat on the other half. And that makes it rational.

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Peter

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