Forging Clear Agreements


What follows is a template for people to follow first, and modify after having some direct experience with the ROI of clarity related to each element. Like spinach, sometimes you have to try it first to appreciate the lasting value.

What – The deliverables defined in words and numbers

Who – There are many stakeholders to consider:

  • For Whom: the decision makers/project owners/project funders
  • By Whom: the action-doers
  • Serving Whom: the priority constituency that need to most benefit from this project result

Why – Don’t assume the why, make it clear:

  • The overall purpose of this work (what problem is being solved and/or what opportunity is being leveraged)
  • The facts that led to this investment: i.e., data about the problem or opportunity; data about the efficacy of the proposed solution

When – Outcome and milestone deadlines for both delivering something to someone and assessing/communicating progress

How – Key elements of the strategy:

  • How will it be known that they are on board with the exact investment of time/energy, etc. required or presumed?
  • What information will have to be shared by whom and about whom for work to be done and results to be assessed/share?
  • By what means will you reach the deliverable?
  • What measures will be used to assess and track the quality of the outcome and use of resource?

Celebration – You will know it’s time to celebrate when you know:

  • What are the numerical targets that will represent success?
  • When will the results be measured/communicated?
  • Who will do the announcing?
  • How will credit be apportioned?
  • What would constitute a failure and how would accountability be shared?
  • What are the necessary hand-offs to arrange for sustainability?


Laurie Anderson, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years experience as an executive coach to leaders in organizations ranging from Fortune 100 companies to the World Bank. Visit or call 1-708-524-2444 for more information on Laurie’s services for individuals, groups, and organizations.

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