When Expectations Change, Communicate, Communicate
October 14, 2009
Sure – the basics in this story are my fault. But I think it demonstrates a key concept that I will explain shortly!
Most of us (at least in North America & Europe)have purchased and assembled Good ‘Ole IKEA assemble-it-yourself furniture.
In case you haven’t, IKEA furniture comes in a box, all pieces are numbered, and it contains a diagram of how it all fits together. Every slot, groove, tab and hole is pre-cut. Every dowel, screw and bracket fits into its assigned place. Assembling this stuff can be a bit frustrating at times, but over all, it is pretty straight forward.
We bought an IKEA dresser for my daughters university apartment and were going through the assembly process when….
Boom. I ran into a problem.
Something wasn’t fitting together as planned. An hour and a half later, with several false starts, mistakes, and expletives I realized why.
Remember I said that every slot, groove, tab and hole is pre-cut? For the first time in my personal IKEA furniture experience, one of those slots was indeed pre-cut, but it was hidden under neath the vinyl exterior cladding of the part. The instructions made no mention of having to cut this vinyl to get access to that slot.
I guess it should have been obvious, and once I realized it – finishing the job was easy. Simply enough, I was blinded by my past experiences and expectations! In 30 plus years I have never had to cut, bend, fold, staple or mutilate any IKEA part or fastener. So as obvious as it may have been, I was literally blind to it.
The SMB Takeaway
There are two related lessons here. As leaders (IT or otherwise) When we are changing the expectations that we have of our staff or teams, and second, in IT no matter how much easier you think that new tool, new process, or new idea is;
Guess what – it will be going against someone’s expectations and experiences. You need to communicate the differences, the reasons, the outcomes.
And communicate it more than you ever thought necessary. And no matter how obvious you may think it is.
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Photo Credit gillicious via flickr