The graph above represents my imperfect remembering of a concept I learned once upon a time - early 90s, I think.
The theory is pretty simple: the higher your expectations of a thing, the deeper your dissatisfaction/disillusionment when experiencing the thing itself. The lower your expectation, the less disappointed you will be. And the less deep your unhappiness, the sooner, easier and more likely your return to satisfaction.
I am sure there is an official name for and far better explanation of this concept. It's similar to Moore's Adoption Lifecycle or Gartner's Hype Cycle, but I believe it pre-dates either of these. If anybody can supply a name and more authoritative source, I would be much obliged.
A number of things brought the concept to mind this week:
- I finally got a chance to study Jeff Utecht's Stages of PLN adoption on the Thinking Stick. I like that he adds perspective and balance to the path many take in learning and using social networking tools for professional growth. (He did forget denial, anger and bargaining ... oh, that's Kubler-Ross's stages of death. Never mind) Jeff's is a good "adoption" model.
- Spring was here. My expectations for the weekend were very high. But there was an inch of snow on the ground this morning, it's now 28F at midday, and the winds are gusting up to 30mph. My satisfaction level will be rising very slowly.
- My department has been pitching pretty hard all the benefits of the new student information system we're implementing next school year. How does one establish a balance between over-selling and working up real enthusiasm for change?
And for some reason, I woke asking myself: "What should be our technology department's priority: Making people happy or making people productive?" I recognize there is a correlation. But do we make people unhappy in the short term for productivity increases that eventually result in greater happiness?
As if I really had that much control anyway...