The heart of a successful project is well-curated expectations.
A missed deadline is a deathblow to a relationship. When the trust erodes, it’s the beginning of the end. It’s most likely something that your client relationship will never recover from. Just a few blown opportunities like that can actually ruin your business. This is a big deal.
An ancient proverb says this best:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire when it comes to pass is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12
The applications are limitless, and the message here is about perspective. An expectation that is on its way, and an expectation that is put off for another day actually could be different perspectives on the exact same event.
A Christmas Story
My experience of Christmas is a great example: Presents under the tree. If I had no idea of when I could open them, seeing them would be painful, rather than joyful. My heart would be sick. If I wasn’t sure that I was going to actually get anything I wanted, I would know when, but my heart would still be sick.
Waiting for a desire to come doesn’t make your heart is sick. If that were so, then we wouldn’t do Christmas or holidays the way we do it. No, a desire that’s coming – anticipating goodness fulfilled – is actually one of the very best experiences. The only thing better is the joy that comes from giving the gift that fulfills another.
The big difference between the two experiences is the context of a trustworthy relationship. Your leadership and experience can set the stage for your project to be a “tree of life.”
- Know your team
- Manage your resources
- Define the variables and unknowns
- Set accurate, attainable expectations
- Add more margin
- Then work your hiney off to exceed their expectations
I have also seen the ugly other end of this when bureaucracy is substituted for leadership, and projects that should take weeks, if effectively managed, turn into years. Education and Government projects are notorious for this. This is critical: you have to deliver.
In my early days, the desire to please my clients created some project disasters, with more than a few all-nighters, and even the occasional missed deadline. I see this all of the time when zealous salesmen are misplaced as project manager. You can’t guide the process based on hope. Accurate timelines, with buffers built in are the key.