Promises. Promises.

Last week I wrote about a middle manager who didn’t consider renegotiating a low value project because he’d given his word to his boss.

The response to the post was consistent:

Ken Flowers said,

I have to assume that if the project doesn’t make sense to the middle manager, it also wouldn’t make sense to the VP. If I were the VP and found out that my manager was doing a project that he knew was ineffective, I would be really angry. I would expect him to talk to me about it first. I pay him for his judgment.

Dwayne Phillips posted:

Beware of promising things that are out of your personal control.

“I promise to look at this and get back to you”

“I promise to do what I CAN”

“I promise to investigate what this project means to you, me, my group, and our company.”

On Ken’s site, James Todhunter left this comment:

Concealing material information demonstrates a fundamental lack of integrity. I wouldn’t want such a person on my team. I could never trust their input or judgement.

It’s clear that a middle manager who continues down the wrong path because he “gave his word” is undermining how other people view his integrity.

So what is different when a marketing representative or senior manager makes a promise to customers without investigating the ROI–and it turns out have a low (or negative) return on investment?

How often do the marketing folks or the executives go back and say, “I made that promise with incomplete information. Now that I understand the implications more thoroughly, I need to revisit the promise.”

Why is it different when a development group estimates a cost that exceeds the potential return–but is told they must ?