Under promise, over deliver

We’re all familiar with the phrase: under promise over deliver. But how many of us are able to effectively put it into practice?

If someone says they’ll “come back to you by the end of the week”, you’ll be lucky to hear from them before the end of the following week. Unfortunately nowadays we expect this sort of behaviour from many different parties. “The cheque is in the post” is an old excuse, thankfully largely made redundant nowadays by near instantaneous bank transfers.

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One of our problems, for which too many of us are guilty is our complete inability to plan. When we make a time estimate we assume that no one in the chain lets anyone else down. We assume there are no ‘problems’, ‘issues’ or ‘hiccups’. Everything will work like clockwork, won’t it. There will be no errors, no sickness, no mishaps. In short, we assume that this particular project will be like no other that has existed in the history of the world. It will be the case study of all case studies to prove how smoothly the business world runs.

Unfortunately we have to get real. Many of those things we did not think could possibly happen do in fact happen. As a result, our time estimates go out of the window.

The alternative way

So it was very pleasing to come across two examples that buck this general trend:

1. Firstly, we were promised by a supplier that they would have something finalised by Friday. And indeed it came true. The work was completed by Friday, precisely as specified.

2. The second example comes from Amazon. Some items I purchased were promised by a certain date but in fact both arrived two days early. Some of course might argue that this is just as bad as promising one date and then delivering it two days late, but I beg to differ.

There is definitely a small amount of pleasure to be derived from getting something either precisely on time or earlier than expected.

So the next time you respond to a request please think carefully how you reply. Rather than being like the majority who have no concept of planning, do think carefully, and if anything try to plan like Amazon. Under promise and over deliver – it might just deliver a small amount of happiness and also delight your customer at the same time.

At Latimer Appleby we have our own way of working using our 6 point commitment.




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