Commitment - what does it mean?

There's a lot of discussion in Agile land about whether people should commit to stuff, or not.  Loads of opinions  I thought I'd share a few of my own, though none of them are prescriptive.

I once worked for a consulting company, 10 years ago,  where we helped companies "build trust" by teaching them how to make commitments that their customers loved, and which they could keep. It was based on the work of a guy called Fernando Flores - a huge thinker - and it was called Commitment Based Management. I base my thoughts on commitment from what I learned there.

A few points:

1. Making promises then not keeping them destroys trust.

2. Good Promises/commitments are the result of conversations - not always easy ones.

3. Forcing someone to "commit" isn't the same as someone committing.

4. Forcing someone to over-commit is often used as a motivation tool. That doesn't work very well, short or long term, and there are many other ways to motivate people.

See "The Progress Principle" by Teresa Amable

5. The bottom line in Agile is that we should "under-commit, then, when we get lucky, over-deliver". We do that blatantly and transparently and as part of a conversation with our customers.  No game playing needed  

6. Teams which constantly over commit are constantly failing, and always under productive.

7.  We humans seem hard-wired to over commit.

clarke chingComment