When I was on staff at Clear Creek Community Church, we brought in some consultants who eventually "dropped the ball" with regard to our expectations. In the midst of dealing with the problem and the disconnect on deliverables they did an excellent job listening and re-calibrating expectations with us. What I learned that day as a solution to a problem I have embedded proactively and preemptively into most of my own consulting with Auxano. I call it the "Expectations Exercise." It's incredibly simple and profound.
Here's how it works. Usually in a collaborative environment, there are people with different levels of exposure to me and why we are in the room. In addition, people always have varying opinions. So I never start a long-term relationship without requiring every person around the table to state their expectations- their hopes, their dreams, their fears- for our journey together. (I give them an out if they honestly have no expectations.) I will listen, and then summarize their thoughts on the whiteboard. I then keep these ideas before us during the process. The exercise accomplishes three things:
1) It gives me huge insight into their perspective as we begin together.
2) It provides content to stokes the flames of "why we are here" in the middle of a longer engagement when people might loose perspective.
3) It clarifies the scorecard and allows me to mark progress and celebrate wins through the consulting engagement.
Use this exercise and you'll be glad you did.