Setting Expectations

3 Jun 2005 /
Doctor pointing at an x-ray

A family member had surgery recently and had to sign a consent form:

I have been advised that all surgery involves general risks, including but not limited to bleeding, infection, nerve or tissue damage and rarely, cardiac arrest, death or other serious bodily injury. I acknowledge that no guarantees or assurances have been made as to the results that may be obtained.

And so on . . . Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Medical professionals are very good at setting realistic expectations with the customer, whereas in IT we take customers into projects with glib assurances and wishful thinking.

I wonder if we could make a practice of saying to customers even something as simple as this:

“This project — like all projects — has a number of possible outcomes, and not all of them are good. Let’s go over some of the more likely scenarios . . .”

Thus spoke The Programmer.


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