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Expectation (ExPLORE Part One)

This is the first leg of a six-part journey through ExPLORE℠, our powerful, proprietary Expedition framework. ExPLORE℠ blends time-honored principles with historical planning models and methods of the Great Discoverers to help organizations thrive in their bold endeavors.

I look for it in their eyes. It’s the excitement of Expectation, and I never tire of it. It’s a gift to behold this sparkle each time The Exploration Group embarks on a new Expedition.

We first seek to identify what our Commissioner (the Client) is excited about and what they’re expecting. They have an idea, and they’re pumped. It’s contagious. It’s a dream they’ve never attempted before, and more often than not, no one else understands it yet. They talk about the value, the benefits, even how the world will be different. They are animated and motivated by a vision that others often cannot yet see.

Expectation is the Ex in the ExPLORE℠ framework acronym. It represents the excitement of what may be. It’s where all great Expeditions begin. If the Commissioner isn’t excited, no one else will be. Furthermore, this excitement— with its lure of potential— provides necessary fuel to drive through the long days and difficult months (or years) until the full discovery is realized.

Beware, Expectation and excitement are not necessarily synonymous. They can be inextricably related, but they’re not the same thing. Hyped-up excitement devoid of tangible Expectation is hollow and unproductive in the long run. We’ve learned this the hard way.

In the early days of The Exploration Group we merely asked questions about the grand vision. Some dynamic, visionary leaders can create irrationally exuberant Expectation, that is, excitement disguised as reasonable Expectation. Now we’ve learned to ask harder questions and probe deeper. Why does this Commissioner think this is important? What are they willing to do toward making this happen? What is their risk tolerance and what resources can their team bring to the table? What is their capacity and what mountains have they climbed before? What is the goal? What is the potential? What may it look like when realized? What do we know? What don’t we know? What key tasks are necessary to accomplish the desired discovery? We also seek to understand why this dream has not been reached before, and we identify the barriers thwarting it.

Sustaining excitement through tangible Expectation is not for the faint of heart. Over the years, the excitement of the "Eureka moment” has been mythologized. Whether it was Alexander Graham Bell with the first call "to come quick" or Neil Armstrong's first words about “leaps for mankind,” those moments came after years of testing and probing friends and colleagues while wondering if they themselves (or their ideas) were crazy.

Rutgers University in cooperation with Johns Hopkins University Press is curating the massive collection of papers from Thomas Edison. Edison carefully tracked and kept journals, letters and communications from which it is possible to trace his ideas, their origin, their development, their commercialization and their acceptance. It is possible to see his ideas, his plans, his pondering, the tests and even the contribution of various members of his team to bring the inventions alive.

Each of Edison's ideas started with excitement. This excitement provided the energy and Expectation for the expedition to come. Without it there is no discovery, and further more, there is not perseverance to endure the ups and downs of the Expedition. With that excitement there is hope for the future.

Where is your excitement? What are you thinking about that is beyond today?

Part two of the ExPLORE℠ framework: Pondering.

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