Cardinal Business Rule: No Surprises– Business More Predictable, More Manageable… Manager’s Golden Rule…

‘No Surprises’ is the cornerstone of business management… Ultimately, it’s best for management, it’s best for employees, it’s best for customers, it’s best for the team… Surprises are the unexpected, unfavorable (or sometimes favorable), variances from expectations…

According to Don McAlister; management is about planning, control, integration of processes that transforms knowledge resources of an organization into new knowledge sets that provide value for customers… Management success relies on adequacy, relevancy, predictability, and consistency in the flow and transformation of this knowledge… It’s management’s responsibility to anticipate and minimize ‘surprises’…

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‘No Surprises’– it’s a recurring theme in management… According to Michael D. Watkins, Max H. Bazerman; ‘No Surprises Management’ (NSM) is term long associated with the idea that the best way to succeed is not to ‘surprise’ people, especially bosses. It’s best to inform the boss (and others who have need to know) as soon as possible for such things as; expected shortfalls in performance, changes in tactics, new information impacting a business, and the like… The intent is to flag potential issues early so that remedies can be developed to solve or mitigate the issues… Often employees tend to cover-up or reluctant to risk carrying bad news up the chain of command, making a bad situation even worse… The ‘No Surprises Rule’ is a corollary to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…

In the article Top Principles for Business Relationships: No Surprises by Joshua writes: In business you should strive not to surprise anyone… Not surprising people means telling them what you know and share information that is relevant to their interests… If a decision affects someone, try to involve them in the decision-making process or, at least to tell them about the decision as soon as you know it affects them… If you have a meeting with more than one person with information that could surprise any of them, do your best to share that information with each of them one-on-one before the meeting… Meeting time is for teamwork not for surprises; don’t ambush people…

‘Surprises’ make great movies and TV like drama to create situations, but in business it’s ineffective and destroys relationships, teams, companies… It means responsibility for sharing information and involving people in decisions; it means building teamwork and dependability… It can be hard at times because it forces people to share information with other people, even though you might feel ashamed about sharing… Usually feeling shame imply you did something counter-productive in business… so applying this principle keep things manageable…

In the article No Surprises Management by Tomas Kucera writes: ‘Surprise’ is arch-enemy of good management. If there is a single thing that shows a dysfunctional organization it’s when the management is surprised… When management is ‘surprised’ it means that open communication within the organization is broken… It means that management has not created an environment where people are open and trusting to share concerns…

 It means management must build ‘culture of trust’ where entire team is empowered with open communications to both give and receive feedback on all issues that might impact the organization… It means ‘No surprises’. Often people know about problems, or issues, or situations… but don’t realize that others also needs to know… When this happens it’s usually an indication of a more serious problem– lack of open communications– people are afraid– to speak-up, take risks, make mistakes… the signs of a ‘closed’ workplace environment…

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In the article What Customers Really Hate by Geoffrey James writes: There are many very different types of businesses, but many of them have one thing in common; they all tend to spring unpleasant surprises on customers after the customer has bought product, e.g.: With banks, it’s surprise of extra charges and fees; with airlines, surprise of delays and cancellations; with cable/telcom providers, it’s surprise of incomprehensible bills with unexpected price increases; and with social networking sites, it’s surprise of discovering that they’re violating your privacy… In all of these cases, you probably signed a contract (perhaps just by clicking through– ‘I Agree’) that warned you that those surprises might occur… However, what you needed to know was probably buried in pages of legalese: Who has time to decipher that?

Indeed, the companies in question are assuming and hoping that you won’t bother to (or are unable to) figure out what’s really in the contract because if they made it explicit, you might buy (or spend your time) elsewhere… In other words, ‘consumers hate companies’ that try to bullsh*t them into buying what they are trying to sell: People hate that… If there is any rule that’s true in business; it’s that everyone hates ‘unpleasant surprises’, especially after being handed a line of bullsh*t… So if you want loyal customers to sing your praises, always let them know exactly what they are buying before they buy– tell them the truth– even if that means that they might go elsewhere: That’s a policy of ‘No Surprises– it’s the most important rule in business…

In the article No Surprises: Key to VC Relationship by Satya writes: In the VC (venture capital) business there is a running joke about; the ‘Oh-shit’ meeting– it’s the first meeting  that takes place after an investment has been made. That’s when all of the bad news that was hidden during the due-diligence process gets uncovered and the VC is faced with the reality of the business for the first time (as well as founders having their reality check).

Typically when VCs partner with a business in support of the founders’ vision, they expect to share-in all the information– good, bad, ugly…  And they expect to share-in it well before they invest in the venture… But bad decision are made, bad hires get hired, product releases fall flat, revenues don’t materialize… So the key to a successful business relationships between founders and VCs is one simple rule: ‘No Surprises’…

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‘No Surprises’ means that everyone has the same information at the same time so that they can react as cohesive team: The ‘No Surprises’ rule must apply to all sides, equally. ‘Trust ‘ is fundamental in business and the ‘No Surprises’ rule keeps the foundation of trust, pristine… So do yourself a favor, when talking with– management, employees, investors, partners, suppliers, stakeholder… establish a ‘No Surprises’ rule for all sides, and avoid the– ‘Oh-shit’ meeting… and that allows you to develop great long-term relationships…