Macchiato Moment

By Morgan J Lopes on December 9, 2019

Empathy within missed expectations

We all know this moment: order your favorite drink at a coffee shop, only to taste it and be filled with disappointment. No matter how great the rest of the coffee shop is — good chairs, nice people, whatever — a simple missed expectation can ruin an entire experience.

Most of the time, it’s not a bad barista that’s the problem; it’s a lack of clarity in the terms of engagement. In a speciality coffee shop, the macchiato is a tiny drink made of mostly espresso. To a Starbucks barista, it’s sugar, milk, and there may be coffee in there somewhere. Two totally different beverages, masquerading under the same name. Who’s to say which one’s the real macchiato, and does it even matter? All that matters is, the moment of disappointment is real.

The same is true in creating software.

When you said you wanted an app, did you mean a web app or a mobile app? iPhone or Android? What about your wireframes — did you want bare bones blueprints for your site, or something much more polished? Like the macchiato, many of the buzzwords of our industry have become unintentionally misleading. If you’re envisioning an iPhone app, and we build a web app, it won’t matter how great it looks — we’re now living in the land of missed expectations.

We strive to be as thoughtful as possible at the outset of a project to minimize missed expectations later. We work hard to ask all the right questions at the right moment, so you end up with the product you really need — with the least amount of frustration along the way. That said, at some point in every project, missed expectations are bound to happen. We’d be naive to assume we’ll get everything right, every time. Sometimes the misses are small, but sometimes they’re not. There may even be moments when it’s tempting to think, “Wow, there’s no recovering from this one.”

But here’s the good news: software isn’t coffee. The possibilities for what we can create together are infinite. So when those moments of frustration do occur, we’ve learned to embrace them as an essential part of the process. Instead of throwing in the towel, we search out where the breakdown happened and recalibrate to find the best possible solution. Most often, the end result is both different and better than what any of us imagined at the outset. If we’re willing, and agile, we can mine innovation from frustration and achieve better, more creative results.

Getting the right end product requires not just clarity up front, but also flexibility in the process, and open-mindedness from all sides. So, if you ever find yourself momentarily standing in the land of missed expectations, have no fear — consider it an invitation to innovation and pursue greater clarity and creativity in your work.