There are many organizations, especially in the aerospace industry, that struggle with perpetual reaction mode. Unfortunately it starts with the contract award. When we plan for being proactive including adequate margin, we are told by our customers our schedule or cost does not meet their expectations. What do we do? We capitulate. We cut out our margins and start off programs in the reaction mode. We accept authorizations to proceed without a finalized contract. We do not have adequate revenue or market position to just say no. Instead of saying “this is what it’s going to take to get the job done,” we surrender because we “need” the business. We allow our own planning to be undermined as an organization. We do this as individuals as well. We strive so hard to meet the expectations of our jobs, our significant others or our friends not knowing what we really do need. In doing so, we wind up sacrificing our values, integrity and expectations we have for our own lives.
As aerospace programs are executed, our customers push for scope creep by flowing contract and specification changes as their own programs mature. This results in reaction upon reaction which exacerbates the situation. Occasionally, there are a few program managers who accepted this situation up front. Knowing there will be constant change, it is possible to evaluate the requested changes and add margin to accommodate changing from established plans. Our reactive mode can be made proactive with constant mindfulness towards scope creep and incremental improvement. This assumes we are aware of the original customer expectation, scope of work and what it takes to become effective.
On a personal level, this means understanding what we have signed up for in our work, with our significant others, or with friends. This takes an awareness of our capabilities and communication of our expectations including adequate margins to account for the inherent randomness in our lives. In managing the expectations in life, we can slowly bring ourselves to operate in a way that aligns both internal and external expectations. Once we “right” our respect for ourselves as well as others, we can push back when appropriate. We can under promise and over deliver which creates trust and return business. People will want us to do things for them as they know we will get the job done better than expected. We build our position amongst our peers, work mates and family through managing expectations.
When we manage our expectations, we create opportunity.