Contracts vs handshakes
I started abandoning contracts and signatures around the time when creating the words and procedures to have them started costing me more than I had money to spend.
And yeah, perhaps philosophically I’m also somewhat irritated by their existence. Why? Because they’re not an agreement for two people to meet as equal, responsible people to discuss things in the light of tomorrow; they’re a record of the past (which has already disappeared) and a symbol of distrust:
This contract acknowledges that we don’t trust each other to be respectful and reasonable about all the things we’ve just agreed to face to face. Please sign here if you agree.
Practically, as a business that keeps changing and developing and finding its feet as its losing its shoes, the rules never stick around long enough to make sense, and I dream of a future full of customers and staff behaving like… reliable friends.
I know I sound like a fruit loop. Let me continue.
I often don’t know what our business really needs from its people until we let each other down.
And in my heart I want to believe people WILL do what they agree to do if they can. And if they can’t, they’ll have a good reason for it and I’ll think it’s a good reason, too. I’d always prefer to let a customer off the hook if they never planned on being on it in the first place. When they’re truly sorry to have to break a commitment we’ve made together, and I can say, that’s ok.
I’m not saying this lack-of-contract-vigilance isn’t a problem I want to change (although I do seem a little attached to the romance of the alternative). And yes, we are getting our contracts sorted right now (as I write) so don’t panic too much my dear parents! (I can feel the furrowed brows from here). Not giving them contracts does, on occasion, wake me up at 3am with cold sweats. Hopefully this will cease with our increased paper trail.
And what will we gain? Imperfect contracts for sure. And gratefulness that the worst hasn’t happen and there’s still time to put systems in place before a real shit storm hits.