Expectation Management

I cannot think of anyone in the last 30 years who has carried a greater weight of expectation into a new job than Barak Obama. Not only the diverse expectations of over150 million Americans, but also the hopes and expectations of billions of people around the world.

Expectations include; solving the economic crisis, balancing the American budget, promoting racial harmony and equality, solving the Palestinian crisis, the Iran crisis, the Iraq crisis and possibly even the Afghan crises… sorting out the American car industry, delivering health care to the underinsured and solving unemployment and poverty to name a few.

With all the resources of the USA and the White House it’s a massive challenge and we whish President Obama every success in his endeavours.

My concern is the backswing when unrealistic expectations are not fulfilled. How President Obama manages this is likely to be educational and if the last 24 hours are anything to go by highly innovative. I could not think of a more effective way to mark the difference between the old Presidency and the new than seeing the President Elect helping out at a charity on the holiday before his inauguration.

This is a project management blog – the rest of us need to remember ‘unrealistic expectations are unlikely to be fulfilled’ and we need to make sure our stakeholders expectations are managed if we expect to be successful. For President Obama, the rules may be different – I certainly hope so there’s a lot for him to achieve.

As Theodore Roosevelt said in 1910 during a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

There’s lots to do and many of the changes will need good project managers to make them happen.  The next few years will be an interesting and hopfully successful journy.

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One response to “Expectation Management

  1. We’re not sure that we agree with the weight of expectations argument.

    We have not followed US politics closely enough to have a truly informed opinion on this matter. But from what we have seen, read, and heard, Obama has so far done very well in being up front with the Americans and the world about the challenges his presidency faces. In this sense, we think he has managed expectations well.

    We believe that, in Obama’s case, it’s not so much the weight of “expectations” but the “hopes” of a once great nation that will bear heavily down on his shoulders.

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