Matt’s Rules of Engagement

Under Development

Each of us, if we think of it, employ Rules of Engagement in regards how we interact with others and how we expect them to act with us. Often - too often - these are unstated - tacit.

Each of us have different rules and we all often feel “betrayed” in our relationships. It is also true that spending too much time trying to work these various rules out can - in another way - create an even greater barrier to a relationship.

This is difficult enough with one-on-one situations, with a team or larger group the complications can get orders of magnitude greater than can be dealt with or way beyond what any individual will want to deal with.

This piece will explore this issue from my perspective in general terms and also state as clearly as I can what my general ROE are. Of course, I do not expect to impose these unilaterally. However, it may be useful information to someone wanting to engage me in some kind of work and relationship.

General Rules...

Come to the engagement prepared.

Remember - hold context.

During the summer of 1999, I was working on CAMELOT with a team from a corporation that was considering a JV with MG Taylor. These Rules-of-Engagement were developed by me to be considered:

  1. Seek to do no harm.
  2. Focus on each other’s bottom line - equally.
  3. Adjust when it is not working for one partner (or both).
  4. Do not seek to dominate or control - cooperate, even employ coopitition (ecological balance).
  5. Change as necessary but replace the divits (for all).
  6. Recognize inequities and differences - respond appropriately.
  7. Learn each other’s business.
  8. Reward for value contribution - not just the narrow deal.
  9. Fix mistakes.
  10. Follow the dream.
  11. Watch cash flow.
  12. Move fast.

These are particularly important when there is a signification difference between the two organizations either in size or in their stage of development. They, in effect build in feedback loops and require auto-stabilizing habits.

These “rules” were embraced by the team but in the end not followed. It is difficult for a publicly held corporation to employ rules like this unless the CEO is involved and personally endorses them. After months of discover and hard work by all, a decision completely detached from the project nuked the whole thing. Those with the corporate were assigned other work - a disappointment. Those of us at MG Taylor lost all our time marginal utility for a year - no profit, huge loss of opportunity.

With rules of engagement, more than agreement is necessary. It is necessary that the circumstances exist so that the individuals agreeing to the ROE can actually follow them. To quote John Wayne: “Sorry don’t get it done.”

In 1997, at the MG Taylor “Being There” DesignShop event we designed the “Flocking Rules” (after BOIDS).

In 1999, at a KnOwhere Store DesignShop activity a set of Rules for the ValueWeb was suggested.




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