During the past four months I have been in conversation with an organization in Central Asia regarding a training event that they have asked me to organize. Primarily through email correspondence we have agreed on most elements of the training and we are nearly ready to set dates and begin preparation. To affirm what we had agreed to so far, I prepared a summary document of the key points and sent it to the leader last week.
I felt good about everything in this “proposal” except for one important part that had not previously been discussed-the costs. As I was preparing the document it became clear that we needed to agree on the costs and begin talking about where the money would come from. So, I simply added what I can see from my side of the conversation as a section in the document.
I have had an unsettled feeling about the way I included the costs in the document ever since I hit “send.” My concern is that it will be (has been) received in a way that is different than what I have in mind. The costs section probably looks more like a conclusion than a conversation point.
As I discussed this with my colleague, Howard, yesterday, he noted two principles that I violated.
First, never put something in a document (in a proposal) that has not been first discussed in person.
Second, always try to get as many stakeholders involved in the conversation as possible.
I developed the “cost” section unilaterally and sent it only to the leader. A better strategy would have been to ask for a conversation that includes the leader, his key advisers, potential investors, etc.; gather the wisdom of the group; and then place the conclusions into the document.
Now that I see what I did wrong, I will attempt to reconnect with the Central Asian leader and strive to be a better communicator in the future.
Postscript: After not hearing from Central Asia for a week, I initiated contact again this morning, applying Howard’s principles. After only an hour, I received a positive response back and we are again on track. It looks like the principles worked!