E is for Expectation (My A to Z of Software Testing, Part 10)

My daughter Hannah is expecting a baby girl that will arrive into a post-Brexit middle-class English countryside sometime in the next four weeks. Project Baby Denhart has been almost 9 months in development and so far the only testing that has taken place has been of the stress-related kind, with Hannah handling the increasing pressure of a front-loaded mound that is beginning to bear an uncanny resemblance to the one built by Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters.

As with many an idiom that dots the English language landscape, expecting a baby is a case of stating the bleeding obvious. After all, once a human pregnancy has been confirmed the prospect of expecting anything other than a small humanoid outcome is, well, frankly, absurd. If only software projects were as straightforward!! In my experience software project expectations can lie anywhere between the solution to world hunger and the removal of that annoying little blue screen than pops up every time you press ENTER!!

Expectation management is one of the most crucial factors on any successful project – and so many folks get it spectacularly wrong. As a Test Manager of over 20 years I can state categorically that setting (and truly understanding others) expectations is one of the top 5 fundamentals of successful management and leadership. So, here are my top tips for effective expectation setting and understanding the expectations of others.

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 1 When I am interviewed for a role I spend as much time describing my weaknesses as I do my strengths – no one is brilliant at everything and I’m no exception

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 2 If I promise to do something, I do it to the best of my ability

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 3 If I can’t do something (due to my lack of skill/capability or lack of time) I say so very clearly and emphatically

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 4 I don’t need to exceed expectations, I just have to meet them (if I get into the habit of exceeding expectations the bar just keeps getting raised higher and stuff becomes unsustainable)

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 5 I say “No” sometimes – I gain more respect for saying “No” than for saying “Yes” and failing to deliver

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 6 I only set expectations for others that I can achieve myself – and then I give them all the support I can to help them meet them

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 7 I expect my teams worst to be better than everyone else’s best

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 8 I will support you 110% if you respect my reasons for disagreeing with your idea

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 9 I expect to win, but I will applaud and support you if I lose

Col’s Expectation Tip No. 10 I will never be perfect, but I will endeavour to improve every single day

Dateline: Melbourne, Thursday July 7, 2016


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