Are you “under-promising and over-delivering”?

Someone at a meeting I was in a few weeks ago made a statement to the effect that he valued management (sales management in particular) following this mantra.

I couldn’t disagree more.

While it makes for a great VC cliché it seems to me that it’s not a good plan to set an expectation with companies that you work with that you want them to essentially lie to you about the results they expect. Following this down the management line – from board to CEO to VP of Sales to Sales Manager to Salespeople – and you’ll completely cloud your view of what’s really happening in a business (where at every step of the way each person tries to set up an expectation that is lower than what they actually believe they deliver).

Instead, how about setting a realistic expectation for performance, lay out the factors that influence success and then try like hell to beat the number.

That sounds like a better plan to me.