Driving collaboration efficiency with communication contracts

One of the cool attainments of ’13 is a long term communication contract which evolved out of thin air. At first it was only used when I was re-negotiating rules for existing relationships I value, but later on I started using that with my freelance customers(I value them a lot too, you know).

The idea is to mutually agree on some ground rules for the further communication to raise the efficiency of teamwork. Even if the set of rules is not something suitable for your situation or your customer, just bringing up the idea of starting rules will enrich your journey with more consciousness ; )

1. Openness

By accepting this rule, we’re committing to share everything related to the matter and our union. All the facts, concerns and feelings. Being open to perceive stuff shared is another side of the principle.

Efficiency in general, describes the extent to which time, effort or cost is well used for the intended task or purpose. (c) Wikipedia

Whenever embarking on some adventure, requiring efforts of more than one side to succeed, it’s beneficial to commit all the resources and dealing with the common problem, rather than political play.

Emotions and feelings exist(and influence the result!) regardless of our attention. Sharing feelings also helps to unveil yet additional layer of stuff affecting the matter, thus achieve more control. If call this unprofessional, don’t forget to envy the results.

Leaving the agreement is also something done explicitly and in an open way. Sabotaging, ill/unhappy and disappearing partners no more!

2. Trust

This one has the following meaning: whenever motivations of the actions of another side are not known, we consider them acting in the best interest of us based on information they have available.

Distributed nature of the modern life makes it tricky to have other team parts available for a council. Even if you’re co-located, being asked about every smallest bit which might be of interest to you will throw you down the multitasking hell.

The principle is also fueled by the Openness: the partner always has as much information as possible to handle stuff in our best interest, even if we’re separated by 12 timezone hours apart. If you’re not satisfied by the outcome, you can always improve that by sharing your desired course of action as well as asking which motivations led to the actions taken in a particular situation.

3. Responsibility

Responsibility is the acceptance of the fact that every result you observe is result of your actions taken or not taken.

This one liberates the relationship from the notion of blame as not constructive(yielding no result improvement) and gives us the instrument to improve each and every situation.

Surely, we can define the areas of responsibility to be not intersecting(also for the purpose of efficiency), but ultimately this principle tells us to view “The other side had skrewed their side of the thing” situation as something actionable on our side as well, e.g. “I’ve skrewed at defining the responsibility areas”, etc.

If you’re still in doubt about how to define meaning of responsibility, please feel free to refer to Christopher Avery’s Responsibility Process. Which is also a wonderful starting point on leadership(and has a downloadable free PDF reminder).


When first spotted the notion of trust, I’ve done some experimentation on applying that to ALL the people all over around me. This ended up with me wasting(most probably) something around $100 on buying tickets and drugs to alcoholic-like guys. Not an expensive experience, but reminded me of the applicability boundaries.

I enter this agreement with people I sincerely like and would like to continue to collaborate with on a long term basis.

The agreement is not something static. And it’s supposed to be broken from time to time. I follow my gut instincts and re-negotiate, or leave.

Pick challenging goals, collaborate to achieve them and have fun!

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