“Beyond Expectations”

We live in very dynamic environments these days. Come to think of it – each moment of our existence and each activity that we do within those moments, are faster than experienced 10 years ago! Like it or not, our action and reaction times have come to be weighed in nano-seconds! Instant call receiving, responding and forwarding, instant sending and receiving text messages, instant responding browsing and responding on internet and esp. on social media platforms,  instant delivery and service expectations for all the products and services we buy, etc. are just a few examples.

This “nanosecond existence” could be attributed to drastic impact of technology on our lives in the last few years. As a result perhaps, our general attitudes and expectations from life has changed too. We tend to expect “more” in terms of speed, efficiencies, rewards, conversions, etc. Our gadgets continue to deliver better by each passing quarter, exceeding our expectations. Newer silicon chips continue to offer more than you’d perhaps need within your lifetime! Newer cameras offer more megapixel, newer phone models offer more speed, more features, more connectivity options, and what not!

Not surprisingly therefore, we too have come to expect more and more of everything, every time –  something that goes beyond our expectations – so that we’re comfortable in exclaiming “It’s awesome bro!” or “It’s fabulous dude!” or “It’s incredible pal!” or “It’s phenomenal, gal!”. A cursory attention to the conversation of young people , would give you these phrases in abundance.

Likewise, perhaps some of our institutions have also followed suit. Even though it’s not a very new phrase that you hear from them, yet all the regular institutions – schools, colleges, business houses, manufacturing units, marketing firms, etc. have caught on to this more virulently than ever – asking for “instant”; asking for “more”! You would listen to some oft-repeated clichéd phrases frequently in these places:

  • “We want your child to exceed our expectations…”
  • “Your son need to break all records…”
  • “We expect this year’s growth to exceed all records….”
  • “The production must outshine the averages of the past 8 months…”
  • “We must see this launch breaking all past product launches…”
  • “Your sales team’s performance must exceed our expectations…”

No wonder that the hiring process in these institutions too should speak the same language! It’s very common to see the online and offline recruitment postings clearly seek out profiles that look for preferably “extremely talented” or “extremely smart and outgoing” or “ready to exceed target expectations” or “ready to outperform market trends” etc. etc.

One common reason given by Economics pundits for this kind of “more” and “instant” expectations is “growth”. It’s true that we definitely need to keep moving forward, and only thing that seems to keep the momentum intact, is to keep on expecting more each time, and that too faster! In some ways, that’s a natural phenomenon!

However, shouldn’t there be a corollary too? Shouldn’t there be reverse expectations in each sector and scenarios we mentioned above? How many times have we heard a school management telling the parents:

“We don’t expect anything from you; we’d  ensure the best possible ways to transform your child!”

How many times (except in fiction and films) have we heard the companies say:

  • “We’d make sure that you exceed your career expectations here” or
  • “Don’t worry, our offer will exceed your expectations” or
  • “We have exceeded your service expectations”

I’m sure very few of the readers would find these answers practical, because our whole system and existence patterns have been scripted to “expect more” and “promise less”. That’s one way traffic! A customer cannot keep on expecting more and more instantly, unless and until he/she is ready to pay more! Similarly, one cannot keep on expecting more out of any person or service unless there’s a reverse promise too.

Further, this very script goes beyond the laws of nature. If one expects to draw out more and more from a farm-land and that too faster, one has to offer fodder, fertilizer and improvements in farming methods. Likewise, if any company or institution wishes to expect something beyond expectations, then it also needs to first make sure that it’s ready to shell-out something equal in exchange. For example, when a company offers a package that’s little beyond the candidate’s expectations, a reverse process triggers in within the candidate, which encourages him to give out that extra effort every time.

Even the new social media, which has become an inseparable part of our lives, too follows the nature’s democratic laws. Unless one gives in form of “LIKEs”, “Shares” or “Comments” upon any content produced by a fellow user, one cannot build long-term credibility and followers online. One needs to genuinely offer comments, encouragements, references and help first, before one gets reciprocated. This behaviour cuts across people, groups, companies and institutions too.

The future businesses will be increasingly dependent on technology and its characteristics – especially in form of speed, flexibility, quality and quantity expectations of the people who would run them. These people are the ones who have grown with these characteristics, and as such would deliver better when get something first before giving something more in return!

Therefore the next time you come across a situation where you’re on the tip of demanding something beyond ordinary, pause and do your best to first offer something that’s simply beyond the receiver’s expectations – even if it’s just a small honest promise!

Smart Tips for a Smarter Business in 2012

About a few years ago, I read an interesting post from Guy Kawasaki, which basically was a wish list for students, in order to prepare them for the real world after graduation. At that time, I found the list extremely practical. And now almost 6years after, I feel it’s worth having a look for all of you who are starting fresh again in the New Year.

image (c) one%inspiration

Here’s the full list (in bold) with my take (sometimes on the lighter side) on each of them:

  1. How to talk to your boss. Give solutions instead of problems! After all if your boss had the solutions he’d have been incompetent for his position! Remember Peter Principle?
  2. How to survive a meeting that’s poorly run. Poorly run meetings are characterized by a lot of “passing the buck” deals. The trick is to stay focused and stay out of it! Therefore JUST CHILL and promise you’d never let it happen in your company!
  3. How to run a meeting. I’ve found that the so-called “effective meetings” happen when you lead – and decide to take things further in the next meeting! But of course you should mix the usual ingredients, i.e. Starting and finishing on time, calling only the participants possible, set agenda / objectives and send the “minutes” to all! Make sure however that your invitees do not go the point #2-way!
  4. How to figure out anything on your own. I learned that the way to do this is to find someone (not your boss!) who does this for you – one who enjoys giving you free information. However when in doubt, the 1st rule is “The Boss is always right” and 2nd rule is “If still uncertain, follow Rule#1” Rest is easy!
  5. How to negotiate. Pure first hand advice is: Once you know each party’s goals, go to any extent to make the other party feel that he has won! Just make sure that you don’t lose by doing so!
  6. How to have a conversation. The simplest of all!! Just introduce yourself and let the other parties babble to their fullest! Don’t forget though to ask encouraging questions to keep this going on and on. This is also true for those networking events where you get invited, but soon find that even staying half an hour will be a waste of your precious productive time.
  7. How to explain something in 30 seconds. Guy’s mantra is to use fewest possible words. I used the technique to the best when I commented on my appraisal in 2 words: “It sucks!” I was better placed than the response of 3 words: “You are fired!”
  8. How to write a one-page report. I learned the technique when preparing for short speeches in school: (a) Say what you’re going to say (b) Say it (c) Summarize what you’ve said! Just make sure you start with 12 pt. font and 1.5 line lead!
  9. How to write a 5-sentence email. Most of the heavy Facebook users are perhaps perfect in this. But the best part of it is that the reply is even shorter… 1-2 sentences!
  10. How to get along with co-workers. Again my own experience is: Be a sucker! Not up, but down!
  11. How to use PowerPoint. Guy’s best advice is: 10 slides, 20 minutes, and a 30-point font. The 1st time I tried this, I did it in 30-slides; 20-minutes; 10-points. No points for guessing the outcome!
  12. How to leave a voicemail. Go ahead! Tell your long stories in full! I can promise you the recipient will call you back in no time, to thrash you on the phone. The other option is: Leave a name, say your number twice, Ask for a follow-up place / time. That’s all!!
  13. How to prepare for a living. “Do what you love OR love what you do” Not sure who said it first, but it’s foolproof! Example: You love reading blogs – hence you’re reading this one. Although many of the above is known to you, you still loved reading the same! (Or otherwise you couldn’t have reached this far!

The best thing Guy does is that he removes hype and adds insights in the most uncluttered way possible!

I’d like to add 3 more to the list above, to make it more relevant to our times, this New Year:

  1. How to achieve Multitasking. Doesn’t mean you leave each of your limbs to attend to each point of your task list. It simply means: How to chat in Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc., while listening to your boss’s orders, e-replying to your friends, responding to status updates on multiple platforms, etc. – all in a matter of minutes!
  2. How to be culturally smart. It’s a simple method… just be ready to pose as a trainee/ junior / incompetent / unaware person with your colleagues – senior / junior / boss / reports – and participate in all their stories.
  3. How to get more social. The simplest of all tips, it essentially means making sure you’ve digital footprints in all the top social media platforms, where you generate enough nonsense. My own experience: as long as you talk nonsense in the most sensible manner, you develop meaningful social networks.

Over to you, good people! Wishing all of you a Happy New Year!

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