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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

9/24/2007

The Cost of a Broken Promise

In an earlier post, I mentioned this idea I have of a promisphere.

To take the idea a bit further, I have been wondering: what is the cost of a promise that falls through the cracks?

In other words, what happens when a promise is broken, by virtue of it being ignored, forgotten, or misplaced?

The follow-up question is simple. If companies found a way to improve the degree to which promises were kept, what difference would that make to the bottom line?

To answer the first question:
  • Cost to the the individual: I don't know about you, but I remember those people who are unable to keep promises. I don't ask them to do very much, or if I must, I replace their faulty memory with my reminder system. This costs me time and effort, but it also causes them to lose a bit of their personal brand in my eyes. I may stop doing business with them altogether if I realize, for example, that keeping the promises they make is just not important to them.
  • Opportunity cost: Projects fail, and opportunity costs are incurred as the project's goals remain unmet
  • Rework cost: A failed project sometimes must be restarted. Efforts are duplicated and precious resources are wasted.
These seem to be the main costs of a lack of promise management.

The way I would fix that with some magical technology is that I would have a device hanging around my neck that detects whenever a promise is made. This "promise-keeper" would record the promise, the due date and the accountable person. It would automatically remind the person at regular intervals, and also send a request for an update whenever I wondered for just a
moment what the latest update might be.

In other words, I would not have to worry about promises. This system would do all the work for me.

Of course, others might find it to be a pain, because it would offer a perfect way to remind both of us when a promise was due. I would be able to accept hundreds and thousands of promises.

Unfortunately, such a system does not exist.

But Promisystem does, and is well on its way to becoming a magical way to keep track of promises.

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