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Promising Your Way to Agility

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In Harvard Business Online this week, Donald L Sull and Charles Spinosa wrote about the practice of Promise Based Management - a framework for action in the organisation by creating voluntary verbal contracts between management employees that encourage entrepreneurship, organisational agility and collaboration and communication.
Promise-based management builds on a tradition that extends back at least to the emergence of contract law in the Roman Empire. It draws on the tenets of speech act theory, a branch of linguistic philosophy that explores how people commit themselves to action through assertions, questions, requests, promises, declarations, and other speech acts. (See  “A Primer on Speech Act Theory.” ) Promise-based management is particularly relevant to today’s executives as they increasingly specialize in their core businesses, divest noncore units, and outsource peripheral activities. It also helps executives to capitalize on business opportunities outside their core competencies and to engage and retain employees within a highly mobile workforce.
The authors go on to say...
Each party to the promise can establish terms to suit his or her specific circumstances and can renegotiate as new information comes to light or as priorities shift—and that’s much less cumbersome than reengineering a well-oiled business process.
..drawing similarities to effectively facilitated, agile teams. Whether the article brings something new to the table (other than identifying the importance of whole-organisation trust and agility) remains to be seen, however one as one blogger puts it -
...one of the quickest ways to take the wind out of a person’s sails is to break a commitment...
The full article can be purchased for $6 but the summary [pdf] is available free of charge.

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