As a developer I’ve often managed to get myself into situations where I’ve been unable to cope with demands from stakeholders. It usually goes like this:
Stakeholder: So how soon do you think you can have “this” done?
Me: Well, I’d say about two weeks to get “this” done.
Stakeholder: Really good, lets talk in one week again and see what the status is.
Me: Sounds good.
One week later.
Stakeholder: So how are things going?
Me: Pretty good, check “this” out!
Stakeholder: Huh? But where are all the things that I just assumed would be in place?
Me: What things? Oh you know, I assumed that these other things would be really good, and I never really thought about your things.
Stakeholder: This is making me dissapointed and stressed.
Me: This is making me feel like you’re an idiot, AND it tripples my workload, wtf.
The common denominator in projects that go like this is that expectations are not met. But what are expectations, and how can we manage expectations to maximize the satisfaction of our stakeholders, and minimize frustration amongst ourselves?
My colleague Peter Strömberg has written an excellent article about this on ppmng.com. Even though the article is mostly targeted at project managers the issues he covers there apply to most situations where we expect some sort of deliverable, and to your day-to-day life aswell.
I particularly agree with him when he says that “assumptions are dangerous”. His tip is hands-on:
- If [the assumptions] are correct, make them explicit expectations.
- If they are wrong, remove them.
I suggest you read it, it may save your day.