Have you ever asked directions from a stranger, only to find that you forgot the very first item by the end of their explanation? Have you ever asked someone to give you a recipe, and then wish you’d written it down? Some things are better kept simple and broken into easy steps.
Tricky Long Commands
On a recent holiday to Sardinia, I realised that some parts of dinghy sailing did not come back to me instantaneously. I had asked the instructors for a quick reminder but they’d assured me it would all come flooding back… it wasn’t at all like riding a bicycle – either literally or metaphorically!
As I set off from the beach to single-hand a small dinghy, I couldn’t remember whether I pushed the tiller away to tack or to jibe. I decided that being all at sea (literally and metaphorically) was probably not conducive to getting some instructions, so with a scowl on my face I muddled my way back to shore. Sailing is actually a relatively simple series of tasks… but that day my brain was not capable of retrieving from my memory and then following those processes. However (as you can see from the photo) I had no issue with the process required for hanging from a trapeze on a catamaran.
Construction contracts are packed full of processes – covering payments, scheduling, managing the project risks and costs, to resolving defects. Each of these could be represented as a flowchart or summarised, to create quick reference guides for those using the contract.
According to World Commerce and Contracting, nearly 70% of businesses are prioritising improving their internal processes… but won’t be changing their contracts to match those new or revised processes. Contracts should:
- effectively communicate what each company needs to do
- manage processes used during the project or task
- reflect any changing needs of the parties and the project (including those on process)
- be understood and operated by users.
You can’t change your processes to suit every bespoke, amended or standard form contract that comes across your desk, but you can make sure every contract you sign is something you can comply with. Compliance isn’t just (or even mainly) about the law: you need to comply from a commercial, operational and technical perspective too.
Simple words can help you get action without creating confusion… whether that’s in a contract or when training a puppy. More from Emma Sutton (my associate and twin) in this video: