Written Jan 30th, 2019 — Published April 10th, 2019
I’ve been noodling the incentives and emergent outcomes of commitments lately, both in business and in personal life.
I realize (and leverage in my own businesses) the value of asking people to commit to working on something with any level of ambiguity or time-based-value for a period of time. Contracts are helpful for helping clients think long term about what working together looks like and purposefully designing an occasion to renegotiate, whether things go better or worse than expected.
In personal life I realize the value of commitment for reassurance, for providing security when life throws curveballs that disincentivize us to stick around for pleasant reasons alone.
But I wonder what the perverse incentives of commitment are, and if they show up more than the benefits do. In relationships, a commitment can be an excuse to take someone for granted, stop valuing and respecting them, or just lighten up the incentive to invest in the relationship in a way you would without a commitment.
In business a commitment can feel like a get-out-of-jail free card for one company, while a prison for another. It’s asking people to take on faith that you’ll deliver, and tying their hands for a period of time if you don’t. It’s quite the ask.