Perception isn't the only thing that commands reality...

I will go out on a limb and assume almost everyone has heard the saying "Perception is reality".

Simply put, this reminds us that the reality of something can be highly influenced by people's perceptions, and that reality is more than just something absolute — Sure perception and reality are aligned when looking at what will happen if you fall off a ladder... but what about the success of your current politician; what is the reality of that?

Hmmmm, this is about to become more of a philosophically charged segue than I anticipated but I think I can head it off before we go down a deep dark bunny hole — As much as perception can command reality, so can expectation. There you have it, not the smoothest transition, but a transition none the less.

Expectation: A case in point — 

A meeting is held and it is decided that someone will finish a task by Friday. An expectation is created.

Because very few things exist in isolation, the task will allow further things to be done on the following Monday, which in turn will allow for activity on the Tuesday, Wednesday, et cetera... all of which is built on what was to be done the previous Friday. More often than not, advanced preparation is taking place in anticipation of the expectation; real work is being done and reality is being created due to this expectation. If the Friday task is completed then reality continues, but if it is not, reality is compromised and generally people aren't happy.

This is a very simple and linear example, and although we know the real world meanders much more, I don't think this makes the point any less valid. 

Expectations, once created are very real, and once created, need to be met. If they are not met, more often than not there are negative consequences that are also very real; another reality that expectations command I suppose. Theoretically speaking all expectations can be influenced, but in reality there are some you will have influence on, while others are thrust on you and influence is unlikely. 

For those expectations thrust on you —

  • Understand if you have any influence on the expectations (and if so, try to influence them).
  • Understand the objectives behind the expectations.
  • Understand the expectations in detail, including the context and the timeframes involved.
  • Ensure you discuss and review resources needed.
  • Clearly understand the impact of not meeting expectations.
  • Work really, really hard to meet the expectations you have been given.

For those expectations you can influence see above, as well as —

  • Engage in the development of the expectations... don't miss the opportunity to influence and even set expectations.
  • Remember Murphy's Law... work a "hedge" into any schedules and deadlines because you never know what will happen.
  • Remember the very popular motto, "Under promise, and over deliver".

And remember, if you are the one asked to set the date for the expectation, whatever you do, don't miss it — That is just adding insult to injury,


A piece of banana cream pie... the 2016 version.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

There will be a point in all of this; I am almost certain.

I was out to dinner the other night with my father and daughter; at the end of the meal I thought I would treat myself to dessert. As I was looking over the menu, I noticed they offered banana cream pie (number two on my dessert list... number one is chocolate, but only by a hair).

As I placed my order with anticipation, I was instantly reminded of a small circa 1930's diner just north of Carlsbad, California that serves the best banana cream pie ever - The pieces are generous, five inches high, large pieces of banana prevail and covered with whipped cream in just the right proportion to bring all the flavours together. Best pie in the county I was told... maybe even the state. 

Banana cream pie was about to be redefined for me. 

As the server placed the banana cream pie in front of me I had to take a moment to comprehend what I was seeing; what I found myself looking at was a white bowl and a spoon... it was explained to me the banana cream goodness was inside. Admittedly, the dessert was good and it did have real banana in it, but in the end there was no pastry, and I missed the signature wedge that defines a piece of pie. 

When the server came back she asked how it was and I said, "It was good, but it really wasn't pie you know." She smiled and said, "Yes it is. It tastes like banana cream pie and there is pastry* at the bottom. We bantered back and forth until I paid the bill. We parted with differing opinions.

Looking back, the natural question to ask is, "Who was right about the pie?" We both agree that it tasted like banana cream pie, but differed in aspects of crust and presentation. Hers comes with a spoon, when everyone knows you eat pie with a fork.... I mean really, what's up with that?  

And finally, we get to some sort of point in all of this. 

The banana cream pie is not about "right" or "wrong", but rather about individual experience, creativity, way of thinking and interpretation... all to be respected, considered, and appreciated. A simple reminder that not only will people look at something differently, but will also have differing ideas on what something should be - A crucial consideration for driving change, progress and evolution. 

What the banana cream pie is really about is "expectation"... and the importance of clarifying what exactly that is.

If the expectation is to have a tasty "banana cream pie like dessert" that can be served quickly and at low cost for a busy restaurant, then the 2016 version is spot on (as I said, it was tasty)... but if the expectation is to have a generous piece of pie with pastry, banana cream, whipped cream and a real fork... well, I guess a trip to California will be required.

The best pie in the county I've been told,


* The pastry she alluded to was a granular substance and impossible to define with regard to its origin... all I know, it sure wasn't wheat.