In case you don’t like sports or somehow manage to interact with zero people who like sports (or maybe you live in a place where American football isn’t so popular), something pretty interesting happened this past Sunday. The worldwide leader had a “not top 10” moment of its own that I bet they won’t be replaying for the entertainment of its millions of viewers.
They took a major “L”.
What happened? The ESPN fantasy app and the website were down on the first Sunday of NFL football. That’s right, the day that people have been impatiently waiting on for months…the day ESPN has the opportunity to back up all of it’sself-generated hype…ESPN dropped the ball (the puns really write themselves on this).
Yes, the pun was intended but what wasn’t intended was ESPN fantasy being down for roughly 4 hours. That’s 4 hours of people frantically refreshing, not being able to update their teams, and being able to track their scores. If you’re a fantasy football player, you know this makes for a miserable Sunday and may be unforgivable when it comes time to choose your fantasy service provider for next year.
To give you a sense of scope, there were 1.75 million fantasy teams drafted on ESPN over the course of 48 hours!
I came into the office on Monday and was talking about how I wanted to write about this whole debacle but wasn’t sure how I could tie it in with consulting to make sure I still gave you something worthwhile to takeaway after reading this.
Someone suggested talking about the notion of underpromising and overdelivering. I couldn’t think of a more perfect idea.
Consultants are always fighting to maintain a balance between selling ourselves but not overcommitting.
Pushing ourselves to creative on how to do work more efficiently but not being unreasonable by knowingly understaffing an engagement and killing the team.
Letting clients know we’re really good at what we do but not going so far as guaranteeing results because there are SO many variables that can go wrong.
Sharing resumes of “representative” profiles because finding someone at the exact right time to fit that need is a challenge. That’s not to undervalue the benefit of having expertise within the firm. I’ve called on other people many times while working through things, but there is a difference between SME time and dedicated resource time.
So how do we juggle these conflicting things? We aim to commit to some foundational items in contracts that technically will meet the client need and then we try to wow clients by giving them more value or higher quality than they expected. The bar then gets raised for your next effort and you kind of negotiate that back to reasonable levels and try to beat expectations again.
I suppose you could call it the consulting circle of life. Queue the Elton John.