Some people love surprises, especially when it relates to gifts. The anticipation of giving or receiving a special present reaches its climax when the much-anticipated gift is finally revealed. It’s the primary reason gift-givers spend so much time and money selecting and wrapping presents.
The Allure of the Big Reveal
A similar temptation exists when it comes to our professional lives. There’s a natural temptation to keep the progress of a big presentation or project under wraps and plan a big reveal in front of stakeholders and the top brass. The final product is like a gift to the broader team, and after spending so much time and effort on a project, the reward is the look of surprise and amazement on the faces of the audience.
Most people have no doubt had plenty of exposure to big reveal scenes in TV shows and movies, even before having worked in a professional setting, further reinforcing the allure of the surprise.
But Don’t Go There
But as fun and rewarding as they may seem, these “ta-da!” moments simply don’t have a place in a real-world professional setting. For one, unlike children on Christmas morning, business executives and others on the team don’t really like surprises.
The “dark” side of opening Christmas or birthday gifts is the look of disappointment when the recipient doesn’t like what he or she got. Imagine that look on the boss’s face when the final product of weeks or months of work is revealed.
Rather than keeping progress hidden while preparing for the big reveal, teams should keep stakeholders in the loop throughout. This gives ample time to get feedback early on and allow for changes in direction.
Big Benefits from Keeping Others in the Loop
While sitting in on a preliminary meeting discussing a project outline, a key executive stakeholder might object to key assumptions or pillars of the project. Wouldn’t it be great to be aware of those objections before investing time and effort turning them from an idea into a reality?
Similarly, even after the basic foundations of the project are in place, stakeholders should be kept in the loop regarding implementation as the project progresses.
Most people have fond memories of being surprised by gifts as children. But they often forget about the surprises they weren’t so thrilled about. When it comes to the workplace, surprises are almost always bad. Professionals prefer certainty and the ability to provide input.
So, while keeping everyone up to date throughout a big project might not seem as fun as that big “ta-da!” moment, it’s far more likely to leave managers and other stakeholders satisfied with the outcome.