Creating Estimates - Exploring Underpromising and Overdelivering

If I were to tell you, I will finish the project in two weeks, but I only took ten days, how would you feel? What would you think?

If I were to tell you I'd finish the project in two weeks, but took three weeks, how would you feel? What would you think?

The first situation is the rooted in the concept of underpromising and overdelivering, while the second is rooted in the concept of overpromising and underdelivering.

The first situation is ideal in most US business interactions, while many Indian teams, without realizing it, engage in the second scenario. Authentic Journeys is often asked to intervene in teams to help them communicate commitments more clearly as well as work on update their estimation processes - or at least the approach to estimations, communicating clear commitments (or disagreements), the importance of proactive updating (keeping people in the loop) and other time management strategies.

While the reasons this happens are complex, and will be explored in future posts, let's look at the concept of underpromising and overdelivering in more detail. Below I am sharing a video and a PDF on this topic for your careful study. The video is a discussion sharing some case studies on this concept, while the PDF also shares different viewpoints and case studies on the same topic. Follow the post after the embeds for some additional points to ponder.


Under-Promise / Over-Deliver Key to Customer Satisfaction

More presentations from Jennifer Kumar



Points to Ponder:
  • What did you capture from these study materials?
  • How can you apply this to your work?
  • How do you think it will help you?
In one management consulting session where these topics were discussed, I was asked, "But, if we do this all the time as our default practice, won't that also be bad?"

To this I suggested that it's good to have a variety of approaches. While most teams I worked with were chronically engaging unknowingly in overpromising and underdelivering, I wouldn't suggest them to flip completely to the opposite side and engage only in underpromising and overdelivering, either, as anything in excess causes problems. We discuss the pros and cons of each approach as well as a third, more balanced approach of more accurate estimates- the psychology of different estimates and their outcomes, and how and when to ideally apply different strategies.

Which approach does your team engage in? Does your team need assistance in working through these approaches and the application of them in your client interactions? We are happy to work with your offshore teams or teams going onsite to the US to build their confidence in different strategies for enhanced client interaction.

Jennifer Kumar is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys. The module on underpromsing and overdelivering can be delivered as a stand alone module or as part of a full day cross-cultural training for it's most effective impact. Contact us or click the links to get more information.

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