Thursday, 31 October 2013

Contracts: 3 "large print" points

It shows that I'm not a Lawyer, but I have to admit that as I've aged the importance of Contracts to me has risen. Whether Tom Waits, Amos 'n' Andy or Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen coined the phrase:

"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away"

I have work colleagues who have had reason to thank their small print, or blame it... to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds. When things go wrong, it pays to have thought ahead and captured in the contract the correct disposition of the result.

Reviewing contracts, your own and others', requires a crystal clear understanding of your purpose in contracting, and sufficient experience in reading and negotiating contracts of a particular type. That experience may come in-house, or from external legal advice. I say of that "particular type" because I recently reviewed a contract outside of my normal comfort zone, and my lack of established reference points was obvious to me. So my learning points are to make sure that:
  • You and anyone advising you is clear on your purpose in contracting
  • You have or apply sufficient experience of the type of contract you will be signing
  • You and any advisors have thought through what might go wrong and how you would want it dealt with if it does.
Happy signing!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Bandwidth tax and Checklists

Two excellent books I would recommend are Scarcity: Why having too little means so much and The Checklist Manifesto.

In Scarcity, the authors have written an excellent and thought provoking book, founded in the effect that scarcity has on how we behave and even our intelligence and ability to cope, The "tax on Bandwidth" conclusion, drawn from the research and evidence in the book supports my own observations, both personally and of clients. The strategies proposed in the book, and tested in some environments to overcome the impact of Scarcity and the tax are intuitively satisfying and a challenge to all of us to apply correctly rather than label behaviours as poor and dismiss them.

The Checklist Manifesto tackles with great detail (the primarily surgical examples are explicit), a topic that appears bound to be dry as dust, but really isn't. As an avowed believer in checklists, this book raised my understanding of what the good design of them looks like and the measurable impact that they can have in key situations. It also tackles some of my concerns about them such as the perception that it hinders creativity (it shouldn't), and the dangers of getting the level of detail wrong (OCD tendencies and lack of user involvement can be dangerous here). The importance of testing, review and modification of a new checklist along with tailoring to local situations was also highlighted by comparing common Surgery checklists in "1st" v "3rd" world Operating Theatres.

Enjoy and apply!