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Connecting the dots between expectations and outcomes

Often on projects, I find it very helpful to outline the overall expectations of a project to better understand how to create a path of execution to accomplish these expectations while putting into place metrics to assist in learning whether or not the chosen path will ultimately lead to the outcome that the expectation presented. For some, however, this can be a bit of a foreign concept. Here is an analogy that perhaps will help explain my point. You and your significant other get into your car to go somewhere. Generally, before you’ve even chosen to get into the car, you’ve asked yourself or your partner “Hey, where are we going?” If it is a place that you are familiar with, you can say “Ok, let’s go” because you already know the path to get to where you are going. However, if it is not somewhere you have been before, you can ask an additional qualifying question like “What’s the address?” or “Should we get gas first?” They are all valid and helpful questions that assist in ensuring that the expectation of getting where you want to go is the outcome.
“If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” – Henry A. Kissinger

Doing things right, the first time

In business, we often say “Let’s just get it done, and then we will figure it out later and make changes if we need to.” Although I understand how this approach can be helpful to move quickly in an iterative environment, I think too often we take the position of, “If we do it wrong, we can always go back and fix it.” I understand this perspective, however, I also think it is imperative to do some level of research before the journey to ensure that you are on the right path as well as being prepared for obstacles that could arise during your adventure. This is where I will poke fun at my wife, as she is always prepared for weather conditions whether its a backyard BBQ or a cross country road trip. Early on in our relationship, I always thought it was silly to take the time to research she did. In some cases, I even complained that it killed the spontaneity of our adventures. However, there were so many occasions that if we would have taken only my advice to “be sporadic” we would have ended up in a rainstorm with shorts and flip-flops on. I learned from these experiences, and they have in so many ways humbled me to do my best to be prepared up from. As you continue to read this post, I’m sure you’re wondering how doing research will allow you to change the outcome. I have to be honest in saying, it won’t always change the outcome. However, what it will do is provide insight as to what is necessary to change the course of direction and/or pivot to ultimately get as close to the anticipated outcome as possible. It is paramount to be aware of your successes and failures of a project, because it can help educate you on what to do, but also probably more importantly, what not to do again in the future. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to complex projects. So be sure to be actively aware of what works and what does not work, and begin to build methods around your successes and failures.
“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” – Dale Carnegie

Learning from our mistakes to gain the knowledge to not repeat them

In an excellent article written by the folks over at mindtools.com they explain that “When we don’t learn from our mistakes, we inflict unnecessary stress on ourselves and others, and we risk losing people’s confidence and trust in us.” To learn, don’t repeat these mistakes, document, and deeply understand why the mistake occurred and put it into your life’s tools box to that in the future you can better align your expectations and outcomes.