Friday, February 3, 2012

Managing Expectations

The headline of the article in the print edition of Wednesday's New York Times Business section read "Sales Miss Forecast at Amazon." The online version was more pointed. "Amazon's Revenues Disappoint." Judging by the number of Amazon boxes I saw delivered on an average December day to my West Side building, I found this difficult to believe. So I kept reading.

Once into the article you find that their revenue for Q4 was up 35% at a staggering $27.43 billion. But Amazon's showing was considered "poor" because it was off nearly a billion dollars from what analysts were expecting. This apparently caused shares to "slump"in after hours trading on Tuesday by $18 from a high on Tuesday of $194.44.

No doubt these kinds of reports combined with the press spreading the news made for an uncomfortable work day at Amazon with people feeling bad about "disappointing" and worrying about how they were going to make up the shortfall and from where.

But from my outside the corporate confines perspective, all I can think is how absurd this is. Where have we gotten to in our society that we are disappointed because $27.3 billion dollars in quarterly revenue in  a snail's pace recovering economy wasn't $28.3 billion. What has happened to the word reasonable when setting expectations? And isn't this why so many of us feel like failures?

We set the bar so high it becomes unreachable. And when we don't make it, we feel like we have disappointed and failed, when the thing we have failed at most is acknowledging just how far we have come.





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