Working with customers often puts you in a position where you get to realise their expectations by turning them into deliverables, whether that be from a complete system build, down to what can seem to be a simple task.  All too often expectations are assumed to have been obvious by a customer or by a supplier with the work either needing to be redone or completely lost at the expense of costs and time to everyone involved.

All too often, what seems obvious is based on your perception of an object or problem.  Depending on how you look at it, what seemed obvious could be the last thing you would interpret.

You may have seen pictures of the Sinking House in Montmartre, Paris once doing their rounds on the social platforms.  Walking up the hill and tilting the camera so the ground is level, it’s obvious to suggest that the building is indeed sinking behind the hill.  But this is all a simple illusion tilted around the perspective of the camera shot.

all about perception

Taking a more conventional phot without tilting the camera, it’s then obvious to see that the building is partly obscured behind the hill.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

still about perception

My own example of this which ended up sending me to Coventry was a simple task of putting two stickers onto a light switch in our son’s bedroom, “Light Side” and “Dark Side”.  The issues started when I asked which way around, “Light Side” on top or on the bottom.  If you are already looking at the nearest light switch to you, then maybe your understanding my point.

“Isn’t it obvious?” she said, “well it would be if you told me!”.  Back and forth a few times before she went to the wall to show me.

Stickers on and all seemed well and done, until our six-year-old son walked into his room and told us we had done it wrong.  As the technician of this task, and the looks I got from them both, this was obviously my fault.

light switch with star wars images

Its important to ensure that deliverables are the realisation of your customers’ clear and measurable expectations, if you don’t understand those, the you’ve lost before you started.

Next time – ask the end user, go to the six year old!