What Verb Precedes “Expectations”?

Over at Above the Law, Keith Lee has an interesting and iconoclastic article titled “Manage Expectations Before They Bite You In The Ass.” After an entertaining shaggy-dog story, he gets to the real point – lawyers need to manage client expectations.

Project management is all about expectations.


What verb would you put ahead of “expectations”? Keith uses “manage,” as do most project managers.

Let me suggest a better alternative.


Set expectations. Set them for your clients, your partners, your team.

Managing is damage control. You’re tying to course-correct something that’s already happened.

Sometimes, of course, that’s necessary. But you’ll have far fewer corrections to embark upon if you set expectations up front.

Few litigators let the other side have a free run at their jury. They know the importance of setting jury expectations early (with occasional tactical exceptions). Same goes for your clients and team.

Set those expectations. That’s your first line of defense. Manage them afterwards as necessary, but get out in front when you can. Set expectations.

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