Exploring requirements for creating commitments

Conflict, Collaboration and Alignment

Collaboration is not the avoidance of conflict. Collaboration is a response to conflict. Collaboration is parties working together through conflict positively.

Collaboration requires open conversations about core interests and strong disciplines for keeping each other accountable. Critical to collaboration is individual performance accountability as well as joint accountability for overall success. These cross-connections between people drive better solutions through more effective problem solving. Making commitments is a system that creates cross-cutting connection around shared interests. This drives aligned actions.

Working with Certainty

Key features

  • Agreed baseline expectations around a roadmap
  • Operate on fixed expectation over short windows
  • Assure competitive pricing throughout the engagement

The following are key features of collaborative commitments:

  • We need a planning frame commitment such as a roadmap for direction. Joint responsibility associated with roadmap across the project is a success factor. 
  • For small batch cycle - operational frame: the expectation for estimates is a very low variance on estimates. The per batch metrics will include scope, costs, earned value, and deliverable dates. These values are measured against milestone and large batch targets (planning frame). Both parties agree to estimates at start of the batch cycle. Parties agree and assign accountability for variances at end. This drives project charges.
    • For each batch cycle, there is a formal commitment. If a contract, contracted delegated authority will be used to ensure team has authority to make commitments. This delegation will be agreed formally.
  • Competitive pressure on pricing - it is critical to maintain competitive pressure on price throughout the project. The planning frame establishes the baseline on a competitive basis. Changes to the roadmap threaten the competitiveness of pricing. This is due to estimates of effort being created under a single source scenario. Countering factors balance this. This includes
    • Small batch cost discussions with joint liability on variance at operational governance level. i.e. if they keep estimating high and can't just justify variance, then corrective actions will be agreed.
    • Initial commitment outlines cost model for project beyond initial set of activities identified; and
    • The equilibrium of negotiations will have its own pressure on price along with balancing the need to protect margins.

Core requirements when making commitments

  • Predictability in both operational and planning frames. 
  • Projects need to adapt to learnings and unknowns.
  • Operational management needs very high levels of predictability over very short windows. i.e. two weeks to a month. Variances are calculated against the batch cycle financials.
  • Competitive pressure needs to be maintained in both the planning and operational frames
  • For risk management, customers and suppliers need to be aligned on shared interests. Individual accountability for performance is maintained.


Commitments need to be designed to address the needs of teams to work together and have the highest chance of success. Neutral Advocate have developed a protocol and a set of patterns for implementation of your commitments. We are passionate about helping you succeed through commitments that work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.