I don’t believe in the conventional wisdom of “under-promise and over-deliver”.
I would rather “over-promise and (be fine with if I) under-deliver”.
The under-promise advice makes people play very safe. It doesn’t let them realize their full potential.
It’s a popular belief that when you’re communicating your goals to your manager, leadership, customers, or investors, you should under-promise and over-deliver.
But when you under-promise, nobody gets excited. Everybody can feel the lack of enthusiasm in those conversations.
This lack of enthusiasm is infectious. As one person starts playing safe, others start playing safe too.
And slowly you’re building an organization that’s bureaucratic and lethargic.
This advice seems good for people who want to “survive” but is bad for people who want to “thrive”.
For growth-minded people and high-growth organizations, there is a better option.
You would rather over-promise, and be fine if you under-deliver.
With the over-promise approach, people play aggressively.
They demonstrate a sense of urgency, excitement, and enthusiasm.
And their urgency and excitement are infectious too.
And you end up building an organization that’s agile and lean. ⚡️
The key thing in practicing this over-promise approach is not to punish people if they don’t deliver the committed goal.
Instead, you should pay attention to the effort invested in that goal and measure what % of the goal is achieved in the end.
And as long as it’s considerable progress — say 60-70% — you should still celebrate it as a win.
In the end, you will discover that, most often, with this over-promise approach, people end up delivering more than what they would have delivered with the under-promise approach.
But the bigger win is — you build an organization of high-energy and enthusiastic people that you want to work with. 🙌