The other day I was listening to a speaker on TV talking about his experience with a waiter in a restaurant recently.  He was focusing on the expression or phrase “No problem,” which the waiter continually used during the process of waiting on the customer.  The TV speaker indicated that he was very thirsty when he sat down at the table, and initially said to the waiter “Please bring me a glass of ice water with lemon.”  The waiter’s response was “No problem.”

Now, the expectation of the customer was that the waiter would bring the water immediately since the customer was very thirsty.  The waiter’s interpretation of the request was that he could bring the ice water with lemon when he was free from his other IMMEDIATE duties of taking lunch orders, serving customers their food and circulating among the customers to make sure the lunch went smoothly.

When the customer failed to get his ice water with lemon the next time the waiter appeared at the table, the customer said “Where is my water.  I am extremely thirsty today.  I need water.”

Woman Drinking Glass of Water

Now, what is happening here?  A difference in expectations, along with lack of clarification of just what each person needed is at play.

How many times have you as a project manager thought to yourself “No problem” when a stakeholder asked for an additional report clarifying how something in the project process was to be handled for that customer?  Is there mismatch in expectations, or are you very clear about when and how the stakeholders’ needs will be met?  Do you clarify what you expect from the stakeholders as a project manager, because keep in mind that this road runs in both directions.

Think about this.  It may mean the difference in everyone being kept current with project plans, results, and expectations.  You will be surprised how often this very situation happens in modern PMOs.


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