I’m not certain who coined the term “under promise and over deliver,” but the first time I heard it used was from Tom Peters. As a chronic over achiever it was a light bulb moment. It is a psychologically brilliant strategy. When chronic over achievers and others of that ilk are asked when we can deliver something, we often feel the need to impress, so we blurt out something ridiculous like, “I can get you the report tomorrow.”
The person who asked is usually quietly thinking, “I didn’t expect it that soon. I was thinking a report of that substance would take three or four days, but okay.” And then we kill ourselves trying to rush the job and miss the miracle one-day turnaround deadline, but instead get it done in a miraculous two days, but it all goes for naught because we missed the deadline and got it there late. Whereas, if we had promised it in a reasonable three or four days and delivered in two, we would have looked like rock stars.
Conversely, I have found if I need something quickly from a supplier or colleague, the easiest way to get there is to ask the person whose help I’m requesting, when “they” believe they can get it done.
It gives them ownership in the deadline and it is often a faster deadline than I would have requested. Partially because of paragraph one and two. People put more of a demand on themselves than many of the hardest taskmasters. And they forget the old rule of under promising and over delivering, an effortless way to appear like a rock star.