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The Quality of a Commitment

Posted by Diane Kulisek on May 29, 2007

committedCommitted“. How often have you heard that word? “Our organization is committed to quality.” seems to be part of most quality policy statements. Does your organization’s leadership mean it? What does “commitment” mean to you? Are you, personally, committed to quality? What is the quality of your commitment? What is the quality of the commitments you count upon for your quality of life?


I was recently asked for my input on a personal matter that would require a great deal of trust for the situation to work. From my perspective, the prospect of trusting somebody who has never demonstrated any ability to uphold a commitment is not one I would want to risk my life on. Are the words: “I promise” good enough to demonstrate commitment and trustworthiness in the absence of any other action or a track record of success? Should commitments be in writing? Should a commitment be conditional? What might the consequences be for not upholding a commitment?


If I had just a dollar for every time that somebody promised me something and then let me down at the critical moment… I’d be living a much more comfortable life right now. Does that mean I shouldn’t bother trying to trust anybody, ever? I don’t think so. Yet, even for those I have come to trust, commitment is subject to their priorities. When I am out-prioritized, the commitment naturally takes a back seat as well.


So, what would be adequate evidence that a commitment has quality?


I took a few moments to search the web for definitions of “commitment” and thought I would share some of what I found with you here. I believe that commitment will always be less than perfect. Perhaps if enough of the following criteria can be fulfilled, the chance of a commitment having adequate quality to win our trust could be optimized.


Commitment Quality Criteria:

1. The person making the commitment is sincere.

2. There is an unwavering focus upon the purpose for the commitment.

3. The reason for taking action required by the commitment is clearly understood.

4. The desire to take action required by the commitment is emotionally powerful.

5. The person making the commitment has already invested time, money or other valuable resources.

6. The commitment was set forth as a pledge, promise or affirmation of agreement in front of impartial witnesses.

7. The commitment is clearly stated in writing and the document has been signed and dated by the person making the commitment.

8. The duration and scope of the commitment have been stated and agreed upon.

9. There are negative consequences for the person making the commitment if the commitment is not upheld.

10. The possible negative consequences of not upholding the commitment are more painful than upholding the commitment.

11. The possible favorable consequences of upholding the commitment outweigh the pain of upholding the commitment.


It is impossible to live one’s life, especially the most important relationships within it, by checklist. Still… next time you feel that queasy pit in your stomach about a commitment you are counting on somebody else to follow-through with… or about a commitment somebody else is counting on from YOU…. a checklist might be just the right tool to help you get it right… the first time.


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