What are you trying to do?  Are you really trying to do something beyond the expected?  Or is it enough just to be on par with the norm?  Hopefully not.  Hopefully what we’re all trying to do is so surprise our customer, so delight them that we are above and beyond what they expected…that they become raving fans.  Isn’t that the idea?

In separate posts today both Seth Godin and Tom Peters refer to the same idea…with their own unique take.  In talking about facing expectations, Seth tells us that we can do one of three things:

  • Embrace expectations and build a product or service that fits what people are looking for.  No change of behavior necessary. Be in the right place at the right time with the right thing priced appropriately and hope the competition doesn’t show up.
  • Change the expectations.  No one expected to be able to buy digital music for 99 cents a song and have it show up on their iPod. Now, that’s the default expectation in some communities. Changing an expectation builds a huge barrier to those that might follow. Change is time consuming, expensive and rarely happens on schedule.
  • Defy the expectations.  Do the unexpected. This is tempting but often leads to nothing but noise.

I don’t know about you, but what I’m hoping to do is not about embracing expectations!  For my world that is just not going to work.  Actually, it appears to work…but ends up being something that no one really wants to be part of.  I guess I want to change expectations but at times find myself simply defying them.  Dohhhhh!

Here are a few ideas from Tom Peter’s take on a very similar concept:

  • From Blue Ocean Strategy: "To grow, companies need to break out of a vicious cycle of competitive benchmarking and imitation."  Sound familiar?  If we want to really face expectations we’ll need to change them.  The only hope is to break out of the vicious cycle.
  • Also from Blue Ocean Strategy: "Value innovation is about making the competition irrelevant by creating uncontested market space.  We argue that beating the competition within the confines of the existing industry is not the way to create profitable growth."  How does it fit?  Again, changing expectations is difficult but will give us an opportunity to do what is actually our dream…to thoroughly engage our customer.
  • Last, from Winston Churchill: "The short road to ruin is to emulate the methods of your adversary."

So what are you trying to do?  Looks like if it isn’t "change expectations" we might not end up where we hope.

Defying Expectations