Overpromising and Underdelivering

Overpromising and Underdelivering

We’ve all done it.  “I promise I’ll clean my room if you let me stay up to watch the end of game 7”  (Twins vs Cardinals – 1987 – Thank you TK)  Needless to say, my room didn’t get cleaned.  And since ’87, its probably been fewer than a handful of times that it has.

“I’ll check in next week”, “Yes, I’ll brush my teeth”, “I’ll get over there tomorrow to work on that”,  I could go on and on.  We promise something in the moment, and then move on to something else.  People almost expect it.  Sad.

Kramer is no different, he’s human.  If you cover him in butter and set him in the sun, he’ll cook.  In the same way, he’ll also overpromise.  In “The Wink”, George has trouble with flying citrus because, as everyone knows, “Pulp can move baby!”

But our lesson for the day actually comes from Kramer, Paul O’Neil, a birthday card, and a sick little boy named Bobby.  Kramer has managed to sell Steinbrenner’s birthday card and it ends up with Bobby.  George needs it back so that Morgan can sign it and get it to Steinbrenner.  In order to make that happen, Kramer promises Bobby that Paul O’Neil will hit two homers that day for him in exchange for the card.

Hopefully you followed all of that and are seeing the error in Kramer’s ways. Not so say O’Neill isn’t capable of hitting 2 dingers in a game(he had 281 in 17 years), but Kramer has no control over that.  His ability to overpromise is wide open, but getting a ball out of Yankee stadium isn’t exactly in his wheel house.  All too often I see our clients emulate this strategy – but in the case of their situations – Paul O’Neill doesn’t come in to save their a$$ and make it happen for little Bobby.

My charge to you is to do the opposite – as Jerry so eloquently says to George in another classic – “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”  Do the opposite.  Under promise and over deliver.  It may sound a little scary, but I guarantee it’ll help your firm grow faster (I may be overpromising here).

Until next month, watch out for flying grapefruit.

Dan Beenken is Director of the UNI Small Business Development Center

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