“I purchased a new computer the other day and was so excited to get it into the office. The many things I look forward to it doing for me, it’s going to be great. The I.T. Guy came out and set everything up. However, when I came in this morning I was disappointed. The coffee had not yet been made, the lights were not on, the plants were not watered, the copies were not finished, the mail was not opened, the bills were not paid, and none of the calls were returned. The I.T. Guy said this computer would do everything needed in my office. This computer isn’t doing any of these things, how disappointing!” – Small Business Owner
The above example is funny as most of us know better. While we all have expectations of what computers will do for our office, we do have to come to terms with the difference between realistic and un-realistic expectations.
A couple of years ago I agreed to take on a number of projects for an educational organization. Like every project before I held a meeting with the man in charge to go over their expectations, and shared the requirements necessary to complete the projects within his proposed timeline of 6 months. Based on the timeline given, I shared with the man two options: 1. Increase resources (manpower & funds) to meet the deadline, or 2. Change the deadline. Of all the men I have ever met with, this was the only one who danced around the options and said we need to get it done by the deadline with the resources we have. Did he not hear what I said? At this point most consultants would have walked, which I know now I should have. However, since I wanted to serve I decided to give it my best shot. Well you can imagine the ending of the story, despite many long days and nights of my associate and I working on these projects, we were not able to complete them within the unrealistic timeline. The amount of work we completed was amazing! I still cannot believe how much we accomplished in such a short time. We did start having chest pains and anxiety attacks though which was a key indicator we were taking on too much. However, the man I met with became upset as people began to complain everything was not yet completed as he promised them. He failed to take responsibility for his lack of listening and improper planning. Instead he blamed us for everything and informed the board it was all my fault, not taking any responsibility for his actions. My heart hurts as I did all I could do to meet these unrealistic expectations, however, it was not enough.
I share the above story for two reasons:
1. Life is too short to waste on attempting to meet unrealistic expectations.
2. Good people (especially true leaders) do not place others in positions like this.
What is the definition of unrealistic? Expecting all of these projects to be completed within 6 months: Data center move, Design/Implement New IP Addressing Scheme, Design/Implement New Network with new Router & Switches across all buildings, Migrate all devices from old network to new network, Setup new primary server & work with vendor to setup Mobile Device Management, Setup 5 network closets in new building and support multiple vendors in various technology related setup & design issues, Resolve new building technology design issues, Setup & configure 50+ AP’s in the new building, Setup radius server to provide security for AP’s, Create an image & deploy to 750+ laptops and rollout to Students, Enroll in Apple’s various programs & setup on MDM server, enroll 450+ students in Apple ID for education by hand, Rollout 450+ iPads to students, Deploy various apps for each grade level & troubleshoot various install issues, etc.
I spoke to one of our vendors about this situation who shared a perfect example of unrealistic expectations. “Taking on all these projects with a limited staff is like hiring a plumber to plumb several buildings all by himself. You wouldn’t hire one plumber to do all this work, you would hire a team and obtain the appropriate resources necessary to complete the projects to meet your timeline. The problem here is management does not truly understand what I.T. has to go through in order to set everything up.”
This experience almost killed me, however, thank God I’m still alive. It was a difficult lesson, one which will carry painful memories for a period of time. The good news is it showed me how not to treat our employees, vendors, etc. Now I will focus on what is important, maintain a life of proper balance, and continue to perform my best for all of our clients! Thank you for trusting us with your technology.
The I.T. Guys – http://www.theitguysinc.com – http://www.theitguysonline.com