At my high school there was a thriving and competitive market place for a commodity that didn’t really look like it should be particularly valuable, on the face of it. Second-hand academic books certainly shouldn’t have held more value than new ones, one would imagine. But in some cases, they could fetch a much higher price than was paid for them in the first place. Indeed, in some instances students would actively eschew a clean, un-creased second-hand book for a dog-eared, battered one. And the reason for this was simple: smart and studious kids took good notes, highlighted meaningful passages and mapped out arguments that demonstrated a strong grasp of the subject matter. So, a book acquired from a student that had good grades carried more value than a blank one.
Now this post’s author certainly doesn’t encourage taking “creative” shortcuts in developing processes, learning and contract skills – however there is an awful lot to be said for building on somebody else’s hard work. This is particularly true when their experience can guide you away from pitfalls, delays and mistake that might already have been made. An awful lot can also be aid for having a clean, up to date version of the base document (I can only imagine the smell and general state of the school books after a couple of years living in different kids’ bags – week-old sandwiches and nuclear-strength deodorant named after something absurd like “Firestorm” or “Ozone”…).
So how many people’s hands has the contract you’re managing at the moment passed through before it landed with you? Well, there’s:
- the people who drafted it
- the people who bid on it
- the people who signed it
- the people who built whatever it set out to build
- the people who manage it; and
- a handful of others at various stages along the way.
Whichever stage of the chain you find yourself coming into contact with the document – the likelihood is that several clever people before you have spent an enormous amount of time poring over it, engaging with it, discussing it and almost certainly cursing it for some reason or other.
As an organisation, it is critical to the success of a project that teams work together to drive the best outcome – even if those teams never actually meet, because they are in charge of the contract at different stages in its lifecycle. As an individual, it is your opportunity to create and nurture your professional legacy by diligently improving the document so that future users can quickly get up to speed in managing it – ideally without the smell of footy socks lingering with it for the rest of its life.
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