PM Road Trip - Done and Done

Done and Done

PM Road Trip Journal

July 2 - Done and Done

Our road trip vacation actually started with a day trip to the lake.  As newbies, we're still trying to line up all the little things it takes to get the boat in the water without sinking or hurting anyone.   Our last outing had been cut short by a dead battery and a motor problem, that forced us to leave the boat at the lake marina's boat shop.  All was fixed and one of the last things I asked them is if we were all charged up and ready to go.  They said we were, but I did not check it before we headed down the boat ramp.  We dropped into the water and the motor wouldn't start.  After looking inquisitively at things I knew little about, I had to call the marina boat shop and have them send someone down with a battery starter.  

What I thought was "done" and what they thought was "done" were not the same thing.  We talk about this a lot in project management.   In my scenario, I just wanted to be running on the water.  Details were irrelevant.  I'm taking this opportunity to reflect on my role as the PM often worried about details that are irrelevant to the end user or business owner.  I'm asking myself how I can focus more on getting the job done through their perspective and letting the methods be of less concern to them.  I think we have a bit of selfishness in wanting to pull users and business folks deep into our IT processes.   They just want a great day on the lake and we spend a lot of time trying to tell them how the motor works.

Thanks to a good project team (two mechanics at the marina and a patient family), we were only set off our schedule by an hour or so.  All that will stick in our memories is that the whole family loved the day.  As we pulled out of the boat launch and headed home we got to capture this shot on the camera and in our memories.

Mark Twain Sunset










PM Road Trip - Great Expectations

Great Expectations


PM Road Trip Journal


July 5 -  After a few days of driving out west and a couple of days of hiking, I've seen live views of what I had previously only seen on Google. I must say that I now know the meaning of the phrase "the picture doesn't do it justice".  I am completely overwhelmed by the size and beauty of the landscape.  The mountains and mesas are awe-inspiring.  My expectations have been far exceeded.

In contrast, I recall a few years ago when we went to Six Flags after visiting some larger, better managed parks.  We were so disappointed in the service and quality of the product.  However, the following summer when we went back to Six Flags, we had put the comparison parks in perspective (including the phenomenal cost difference) and had a wonderful day.  Our expectations that time, with the same experience, were exceeded.

So, I'm thinking about project expectations and the difference between setting and managing expectations.  Several years ago, working on a project for a government client, we were struggling to produce the desired outcome for the customer.  My manager at the time encouraged me not to worry about it; that he was very good at managing the client's expectations.  But we found that the power of their previously set expectations were a tremendous challenge to overcome.  How can we be better project stewards and really sit down with our customers and set their expectations to a realistic level so that when we deliver, it will be well within their desired range, and perhaps even above it?  It takes a lot of courage to tell customers that expecting a Disney experience from on a Six Flags budget isn't going to produce desired results.  

But, if we're willing to drive many hours and trek up the mountain, the view can be better than imagined.  As I said earlier, the picture doesn't do it justice, but seeing this view of the Colorado National Monument in person can change your perspective on life.


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