Lesson in Commitment from the Chilean Miners’ Rescue

I stayed up late on Tuesday evening to watch as the first few miners were rescued from their underground cavern after having spent 68 days trapped. I was amazed by the ability we have to watch, in real-time, as the rescue took place, the positive attitudes that could be felt through the video, the happiness as families were being reunited.

There was also some amazement at how well the rescue was managed. I remembered the rescue team saying they hoped to have the miners out in time for Christmas, and, once they reached the miners, that the trips in the capsule would take about 20 minutes to reach the surface. Yet, watching the miners come to the surface over 2 months earlier than hoped, in a trip that took 15 minutes rather than 20, made me realize that the rescue team really did know what it was doing, and not just in terms of getting the people out, but in managing hopes and expectations.

The team had under-promised in order to avoid creating a false sense of hope. They had then over-delivered, thereby increasing the happiness of those involved.

When you run your business, you should be doing the same. Yes, you could have promised what you can deliver, but then what if you’re wrong? What if things don’t go according to the best-case scenario, or even the average-case scenario? If you had promised worst-case scenario, then you know that you will be able to at least meet the expectations that are being set, and likely exceed them if and when your fears of delays and complications fail to materialize.