Aug 042011

Keeping Commitments

Keeping Commitments

Today’s post is another in the series about our 13 core values at Return Path, about making commitments.  The language of our value specifically is:

We believe in keeping the commitments we make, and we communicate obsessively when we can’t

Making and keeping commitments is not a new value – it’s one of Covey’s core principles if nothing else.  I’m sure it has deeper roots throughout the history of mankind.  But for us, this is one of those things that is hard wired into the social contract of working here.  The value is more complicated than some of the other ones we have, and although it is short, it has three components that worth breaking down:

  • Making commitments:  Goal setting, whether big company-wide goals, or smaller “I’ll have it to you by Tuesday” goals, is the foundation for a well-run, aligned, and fast-paced organization
  • Keeping commitments:  If you can’t keep the overwhelming majority of your commitments, you erode the trust of your clients or colleagues and ultimately are unable to succeed
  • Communicating when commitments can’t be met:  Nobody is perfect.  Sometimes circumstances change, and sometimes external dependencies prevent meeting a goal.  The prior two parts of this value statement are, in my mind, pay to play.  What separates the good from the great is this third piece — owning up loud and clear when you’re in danger of blowing a goal so that those who are counting on you know how to reset their own work and expectations accordingly

It’s worth noting on this one that the goal is as relevant EXTERNALLY as it is INTERNALLY.  Internal commitments are key around building an organization that knows how to collaborate and hand work off from group to group.  External commitments — from meeting investor expectations to client deliverables — keep the wheels of commerce flowing.

I’m enjoying articulating these values and hope they’re helpful for both my Return Path audience and my much larger non-Return Path audience.  More to come over time.

Wasde believe in keeping the commitments we make, and communicate obsessively when we can’t