Everyone can collaborate when things are going well. When your money or reputation is at risk, things change.

For example, you produce a program and subcontract a subject matter expert to deliver content for part of the program on terms agreed upon ahead of time. What if you cannot pay them according to those terms when the time arrives?

The easy answer is “don’t make commitments you cannot keep,” but it’s not always that easy.

Here are a few tools:

1. Next time, before the commitment is made, make sure assumptions surrounding the commitment are illuminated and considered by those affected (e.g. do you have the money in-hand to pay the subcontractor).

2. While not pleasant, after the fact, work out creative options to meet as much of the commitment as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there are a few assumptions that cover a majority of the situations and we need to be prepared for each of those. Also, there are only a few creative options to use a majority of the time to help meet as much of the commitment as soon as possible.

While we don’t like to admit it, we have to refer to these tools more often than we’d like. Wouldn’t it be easier if we had them written-down instead of “shooting from the hip?”

The “holy grail” is consistency. Consistency is behaving the same when money or reputation is at risk as you do when things are going well. It’s easier to measure this consistency with tools captured on paper.      

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