The Triangle of Expectations

Here’s a concept I’ve heard over and over as a law for doing business. One resource called it “The Triangle of Expectations.” It goes like this:There’s good, there’s cheap, and there’s quick. Pick two.

triangle of expectations: good, quick, cheap
The concept here is that it’s realistic to focus on two of those aspects, but it’s rare to get all three. If it’s good and quick, it’s gonna cost you. If it’s quick and cheap, you’ll sacrifice quality. If it’s cheap and good, you probably need to wait for it. Most of us know this subconsciously. It explains why upscale stores are pricey, why dollar stores sell things that break easily, and why that great free gift has a 4 – 6 month wait attached to it. In our conscious minds, though, we tend to forget about it. We each have our own set of preferences, and we view our world through those expectations (mine is cheap and quick — and I dig through those for the good). When working with clients, however, I’m learning it’s important to figure out their subconscious expectations. They may say, “I want it to look good,” when their biggest concern is getting the message out by tomorrow and doing it under budget. It takes tact to find out what’s most important to a client on the Triangle of Expectations, without suggesting that you can’t provide all three. Everyone believes that it’s possible to have all three. But there’s a big difference between a fast food hamburger and a steak.

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