I've been thinking a lot about level setting expectations these last few months. I'm currently working with a team to develop a new software product. As it turns out it is a fairly visible project within our organization. I hate this. I much prefer to work under the radar. Since it's more visible it needs more "care and feeding" so to speak. We have a standard process for managing projects which includes something called Risk Management. The idea is to spend time up front identifying risks, defining a mitigation plan either to eliminate the risk or a plan to reduce its impact should the risk manifest. The idea is to think through potential issues first before they blow-up and impact the cost, schedule or scope. Important, but not easy.
Earlier this year I hit a wall (not literally) of frustration. Normally, the project manager is responsible for identifying and managing the project risks. Although on past projects, I've been the project manager but on this project I have a different role. Unfortunately, the project manager hasn't focused on this. We've stumbled our way to completing the first phase and will release the product on Monday, but it hasn't been easy and it hasn't been pretty.
During my fit of frustration my husband gave me a new metaphor to approach this project. My expectations were that we deliver the product successfully, but also by following all the processes. The problem is we have too much to do in the time alloted. He helped me to see that maybe this is more like a first-run marathon. That we finish is the success, not that we finish first. Not an easy thing for a recovering workaholic and perfectionist.