Beneficial Intelligence

Expectation Management

May 28, 2021 Sten Vesterli Season 2 Episode 16
Beneficial Intelligence
Expectation Management
Show Notes

In this episode of Beneficial Intelligence, I discuss expectation management. I was doing a small renovation project in our summer cottage, and I needed a special type of hinge. I found it on the website of our local building supplies store, but when I got to the store, it wasn't there. It turned out that this store was part of a co-branded chain. They had an aspirational website showing all the items a shop could potentially carry, but each shop would actually sell only their own idiosyncratic collection of items. The store did not meet my expectation, and I will not go back there.   

You also want to meet or exceed the expectations of the users of your IT systems, no matter if they are internal users, external partners, or customers. The problem with achieving that is that IT professionals are notoriously bad at putting themselves in the users' place. 

The secret to meeting user expectations is to ask real users. You don't need a fancy usability lab to do that. Usability guru Jakob Nielsen has popularized the term "discount usability engineering" where you grab five random people in the hallway (outside the IT department) and show them your system. His research backs his claim that these five people will find almost as many of the issues as a much larger and more professional study.

As CIO or CTO, you have the ultimate responsibility for the success of all projects. That means you have to remind each project to communicate continually to the entire organization what the project will achieve. In that way, you can manage expectations and make your projects successful.


Beneficial Intelligence is a weekly podcast with stories and pragmatic advice for CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders. To get in touch, please contact me at [email protected]