Volume 19 Number 10 - October 5, 2021

My mission is simple. I am devoted to enabling people working in manufacturing to recognize and achieve their potential; through that each of you contributes to an improved quality of life for all you touch. Mission matters. That of your business, and yours personally.

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The Cost of Low Expectations

When John F. Kennedy established the goal of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely home, no one knew how. But the expectation was set.  And importantly, resources required to accomplish this seemingly far-fetched goal were supplied. That goal was accomplished.

After the announcement of the first iPhone and six months before it was to be available to the public, Steve Jobs insisted to his team that the front be made of glass instead of plastic to improve quality. None of them knew how, but the expectation was set. And the iPhone has never been sold with a plastic screen; only glass. Importantly, resources required to accomplish this seemingly impossible goal were supplied.

Few leaders and even fewer managers believe the expectations they place on themselves and their teams are low. Yet they frequently are.

Working with one Operations VP to define and implement an operations strategy, we agreed to a 3-year goal of reducing product cost by 25%. We didn’t know how, but we had a few ideas and commitment. His boss, the COO, reduced that goal, believing it to be unreachable. The expectation placed on operations was lowered. And they performed accordingly.  Not that they didn’t work hard, but that the need for significant creativity and elimination of obstacles was diluted.

Wishful thinking is very different from high expectations and high expectations cannot emanate from frustration or anger. High expectations that are important to the larger picture and are supported by invested resources should be the norm for every manufacturing business that intends to endure.

Kennedy said: “…not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

Look at the expectations you have placed on your organization and team. What purpose do they serve? Do they “measure the best of our energies and skills?” Does meeting them propel your business and team forward into new potential?

A demanding leader is considered unreasonable, unless she also provides the resources required and respects the whole person of each team member.

Are the expectations you place on your team limiting its success? Too often, that is the case.

While your business faces many impediments in becoming an enduring one, do not let self-induced obstacles like low expectations be among them.

The Starting Pistol

Arthur Schopenhauer:
"Talent hits a target that on one else can hit. Genius hit a target that no one else can see."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"Aiming high enough to build an enduring manufacturing business requires a touch of genius and much more than better, faster, and cheaper. Don’t settle for less."

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