Whether a formal contract or simple handshake, this is the capstone of an agreement. Often, in the blush of optimism, the parties rush through this task—big mistake. The old saying, “If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist” applies here. The best technique in this phase is to take the time to go back through each of the items on the agenda to make sure each has been covered. Once both parties can describe and are satisfied with the terms and conditions of the agreement, it’s time to wrap it up.
Once the agreement has been signed or made final, it’s appropriate to communicate it to the parties who are affected by the outcome. In some instances, the extent of communication is dictated by public interest. However, sometimes the parties insist that the agreement be “sealed,” including penalties for disclosure. In any case, how the agreement will be shared with a wider constituency should be discussed and agreed to by the parties.
When an agreement is complex and involves multiple resources to implement, communication become increasingly important. In addition, both parties should explore implementation pitfalls. These usually begin with “What would happen if . . .?” Some examples follow:
What would happen if we don’t meet the volume target?
What happens if the car breaks down within the next six months?
How do we handle a delay in the installation schedule?
Granted, you can’t anticipate everything, but ...