It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, February 24, 2014

Expectation vs Outcome

In today's consulting world, a lot of talk is made about setting expectations.  "We have to meet and exceed the expectations of our clients".  This phrase is discussed with the same certainty as looking out the window and seeing if it is raining or not.  My experience with expectations, is that it is far more difficult; closer to deciding if it will rain during my vacation this summer.

"Expectation - a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future."

Expectations require discussion, analysis, synthesis, and some push back to the client to properly "set the expectation".  It is important to realize that one of the reasons the client uses consulting services is that they have a need (however undefined the need has been stated).  Defining and clarifying that business 'need' is the key to setting expectations.  The business need is what is the driving force for customers to reach out and look for consulting.

Some strategies:
  • Proactive - if the client has to voice their expectations, you already have lost some credibility ground with the client.
  • Early - have the expectation discussion early.  Don't believe that everyone understands, no matter how many times you have interacted with this client.  I believe in setting expectations during pre-sale meetings (much to the account manager's dismay/objections).
  • Firm - don't agree to something your company cannot do or a time schedule that cannot be met.
  • Decision Maker - your only true client is the person who writes the checks.  Solving the decision maker's business issue(s) is the priority.
  • Communicate in writing where possible.  This is hard for some to find time in this cellphone/texting world.  If communication is done well, there is a start of a checklist to customer satisfaction.


Now comes the harder part, meeting and exceeding expectations.  I learned from Bob Palioca that by setting realistic expectations, exceeding expectations is an achievable and sustainable goal.  His point is that if I promise 110% of what is achievable and I reach 99.9% of that goal, then my customer will be upset.  However, if I promise 98% and deliver the same 99.9%, my customer will be delighted (I met and exceeded the customer's expectations).

"Anger always comes from frustrated expectations" - Elliott Larson

Like the last good dinner at a restaurant you had, what clients desire is a predictable outcome at an agreed upon price.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Breaking Down Barriers

One of the responsibilities of a leader is to encourage team communication.  That open discussion of strategic goals the company is achieving, projects that need completion, issues that need resolution are all important elements of a successful team.  Barriers stop the achievement of these elements.


ANSWER - Break down those barriers.  Some approaches that make sense.
  • Create consensus - everyone 'rowing in the same direction'
  • Create a culture of active listening (which helps in creating consensus)
  • Leaders need to participate in discovery, process, and solution of the goals/projects.
  • Remove roadblocks - wish I would have understood this earlier in my management career.

Good leaders can manage to remove barriers in most cases.  However, there is a barrier that is hard to overcome.


What would make a team member not want to succeed?  I think the crucial part is the word "succeed".  Consensus is not alignment.  Alignment of goals, needs, and motivation are overlooked elements to the word "succeed".  What is the difference between an aligned and non-aligned team:

Company - how will this affect my team and team members
Personal Goals - how will this affect me
Team - how can I assist the team to achieve the goals
Resume Building - I need to say I was part of this so my next job appreciates my achievement
All-in - how can I contribute to the success of company/goal/project
Skating - hoping the problem/project/goal goes away

Alignment to the goals is key.  Verifying that your team is in alignment is tougher.  Ask the tough questions, set definable benchmarks, and hold the team accountable.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Success Past Detours

There is a workplace strategy in some organizations called "up and to the right".  It is viewed as the way success happens.  Always moving onward and upward.  It is powerful stuff.  All motivated team members should be thinking "up and to the right".  Is life that way?


Life's journey is not a continuous up and to the right.  Life has a more bumpy road than that.  In fact, life's experiences get in the way.  Most people end up having the road of "up and to the right" with the following detours (some good, some bad):
  • Illness (themselves or loved ones)
  • Economy (everybody remember 2008)
  • Divorce
  • Children
  • Marriage
  • Legal (lawsuits and litigation).

What drives success, overcoming these detours, is a combination of three things:
  1. Attitude
  2. Persistence
  3. Always Learning

Most of life's detours are not in our control. We can control the drivers of success of attitude, persistence, and learning.


I am a victim of my circumstances.
"I can do" Attitude leads to better times ahead.
I thought the economy would be better by now.
Life has bumps, I will stay a steady course of always moving forward.
I finished school years ago - I have no time.
I will always grow  - constant improvement.

Success, like beauty, is in the eye of the individual.  Identify your definition of success and have a great attitude, be unbelievably persistence, and always improve.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal:  it is the courage to continue that counts"  - Winston Churchill

"If you accept the expectation of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome" - Michael Jordan.
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Path to Success

As a manager of a team:
  • We struggle with how to get things done.
  • We want the team to work together.
  • We want the team to be successful.

So how to we get the team to be successful?


A phrase I often use with team members is the concept of "path to success".  This phrase can be confusing to team members, as it seems a bit 'conceptual'.  Success for the team and the individual team member is dependent on a defined game plan, and excellent execution of the game plan. 

So what is the role of the team lead?
  • Create the game plan.
  • and….create the methodology for each team member to  execute the game plan - in other words create a pathway to that execution (a Path to Success).


  1. Commitment by both the leader and the team to being the best they can be (whatever level of experience they may have).
  2. Clear Objectives/Defined Goals requires the team lead to clearly state both the project/team objectives and the methodology to achieve those objectives - leave nothing to "they should know this".
  3. Individuality - each team member will need to be interacted with as an individual, focusing on them in a holistic manner, but celebrating their uniqueness.
  4. Right Approach is all about the leader telling, instructing and SHOWING the approach that is needed.  The boss must show up on time, work hard, have the right ethics, and reward those who perform the WORK.
  5. Praise - enjoy each step of the journey - celebrate their success, support them, help them to improve.  The leader must encourage the team, and activity participate in the cheerleading of the entire team.

Leaders are motivators, participants, and encouragers of the process of achieving the game plan.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.