Conscious Business [Kofman] — Part 2: Interpersonal Commitments

This is Part 2 of a two-part series, covering some great insights from:

Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values by Fred Kofman

Part 1 focused on operational conflict resolution. Part 2 focuses on interpersonal commitments.

Elements of a properly formed request for commitment:

  • Expression — what is being requested
  • Requester — who is requesting it
  • Receiver — from whom — has to be specific.
  • Standards — measurable standards for assessment of fulfillment. Clear what? And by when?
  • Need — or desire that the requester is trying to satisfy with the request (the why?)
  • Agreement — explicitly asking for commitment to fulfill the request.

In order to accomplish W (the satisfaction of a need), I ask you to do X (a specific action) by Y (a specific time). Can you commit to that?

Pre-response checklist:

  • Do I understand what the other is asking of me?
  • Do I have the skills and resources to do it?
  • Am I convinced that those on whom I depend will deliver for me?
  • Am I willing to be held accountable for anticipating potential breakdowns?

Valid responses to a commitment request:

  • Yes, I promise
  • No, I do not commit (although I can try…)
  • I need clarification
  • I commit to respond by (a definite data)
  • I accept conditionally. I can commit to do what you ask if R (a mutually observable condition) happens. Would that work for you?
  • Let me make a counter offer. I can’t commit to doing X by Y, but I could do S by T. Would that work for you?

A productive complaint:

  • Check your intention (virtuous, rather than blame)
  • Establish appropriate context (time, place, confidentiality, emotional tone, etc.)
  • Verify the previous commitment. The risk of prosecuting someone mistakenly is higher than the risk of having them squirm out of a commitment one time.
  • Verify the failure to honor the commitment. You’re only trying to define whether the commitment was broken, not whether the breakdown was justified.
  • Inquire into what happened — hear the other’s story of what happened from his point of view
  • Evaluate the damage and express the complaint — operational, relational, and personal.
  • Request reparations and negotiate a recommitment — be honest about what will truly close the issue for you
  • Learn and prepare for the future — identify the part of the process that is weak and under which conditions and plan strategies / design mechanisms to strengthen it.

A productive apology:

  • Establish the appropriate purpose (individual context) for the apology. You goal is to repair the breakdown in coordination, trust and impeccability, and the hurt feelings.
  • Establish the appropriate context (prepare the conversation). Choose an appropriate time and place.
  • Acknowledge the previous commitment. Own your promise.
  • Acknowledge your failure to honor the commitment. Take responsibility for the non-fulfillment. Offer an explanation.
  • Inquire about the damages and apologize. Don’t argue. Acknowledge the other’s perspective.
  • Offer reparations and negotiate a recommitment. Ask the other what he needs to feel appropriately indemnified and allow him to declare the issue resolved
  • Learn and prepare for the future.
Conscious Business [Kofman] — Part 2: Interpersonal Commitments

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