"Statements of Work" for Home and Office?

Monday, 13 March 2017 10:58
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I've repeatedly learned that people often don't share the same expectations when undertaking an endeavor together...at least not initially. These mismatches can create a foundation for frustration and potentially, failure. 

Have any of you parents out there ever asked your teenager to clean his or her bedroom? Sure you have. Is your definition of clean the same as theirs? Probably not.

Most parents would define clean as: the absence of visible dirt, dust, clothing and or clutter from living surfaces. Most teenagers define clean as, "whatever I can get away with without my parents punishing me." Can you now appreciate how the absence of agreed expectations as described in this example could lead to friction between the parties? 

Similarly, in our work lives, we may not always be aligned with our internal customers or external partners regarding expectations. How many times have you received from another party the answer, "soon" to a question about timing for receipt of a deliverable? Does "soon" mean later today? Tomorrow? Next week? Arggh!

In consulting engagements, the parties prepare and agree upon what is known as a Statement of Work (SOW). SOWs are used to define the work product that the consultant agrees to deliver, during a particular time frame, at a particular cost. The clearer and better defined the specifics of each of these elements, the less uncertainty there will be associated with the deliverables and the process and the higher the probability that the desired outcomes will be achieved. Conversely, the less well defined the mission, the greater the chance that the deliverables will not match at least one of the parties' expectations.

We should aim to apply this same discipline to our work and personal dealings. I'm not saying that we need a signed "contract" for every interaction we have with our co-workers or family members. However, I am suggesting that the various parties should be explicitly clear about describing their respective and or collective needs and expectations for deliverables, including timing. Others should do likewise. We should explicitly confirm our understandings and work to resolve mismatched expectations wherever possible.

This type of structured interaction may seem to some to be overly formal. It doesn't need to be. It just needs to be sufficiently thorough to help ensure successful outcomes and to avoid misunderstandings, where possible. 

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