Can You Use Commitment Based Management At Home?

Commitment Based Management(CBM) is Digineer’s framework for project delivery.   Over the past few months, I’ve had some discussions with my peer CBM practitioners and have asked them: “Ever try to use CBM at home with your significant other or kids?”.  Most times the conversation goes down the path of “Yeah, and with very mixed results.”

My household consists of a blended family.  If you want a case study in triangulation, embed into a blended family with teenagers for a week or two and you will have material for an entire book.  But I’m not talking about Interaction Principles today.

The Action Cycle is my focus today.  My wife Susie and our youngest Cyrus had a consistent pattern of her assigning something, him getting distracted and not starting, her following up, him getting frustrated and claiming she was nagging him, and in the end, the result was nothing but conflict instead of the “completion” of the chore.

Something else needed to happen, so Susie assigned me the task of getting Cyrus to complete a chore (if something consistently fails, try something else?).  I had just taught an Action Cycle class and I was bound and determined to apply this stuff…  She was my customer and I was her performer.  My condition of satisfaction was to successfully get Cyrus to complete the task of digging up eight young trees that had grown on our landscaped slope separating our yard from the sidewalk by the end of the weekend.  Some of these trees were over six feet high and to make them go away, you need to dig out a pretty significant root ball – it’s challenging work and if not done right, it needs to be done again later.

So, true to nested action cycle form, I obtained an audience with Cyrus on a Saturday morning and we sat down to discuss what I needed to be done.  The first thing I did was to convince the 14-year-old that I trust him to perform this very specific task to be completed by sundown Sunday.  I told him that I would not ask him how he was doing unless he wanted to tell me.  In fact, he didn’t need to see me until it was time for me to assess my satisfaction.  I tagged the trees he needed to remove, I showed him what it means to remove a tree complete with a root ball, and I gave him a specific “by when”.  I got him to agree to my request.  I then went away…

I was tempted to ask him how it was going, but I didn’t.  He said a thing or two later Saturday which sounded like he was goading me to micromanage his work, but again I didn’t.  The weekend progressed with my going about my business and he goes about his.  He had other things going on that weekend like baseball practice and other 14-year-old things.  But, he managed his time and I would occasionally see that the shovel and lopper were not in the garage.

Sunday afternoon, well before the “by when”, he came and got me to assess his work.  Yes, he did complete the removal all eight trees in a manner I considered to be satisfactory.  He was quite proud of his work when I asked him questions about it he was quite proud to tell me about it.  He developed a method of clearing the tall weeds around the tagged trees, lopping the trees down so that they don’t get in the way, then digging out the root ball.  I paid the guy the agreed fee.

How did this go so well?  I’m certain the principle of trust played a huge role.  My not continually monitoring or critiquing his work allowed him to focus on the tasks instead of the typical conflict associated with chores.  While I indicated “what” needed to be done, allowing him to manage the “how” resulted in his developing a method which made him highly effective.  It could not have gone better in my opinion.

Want to learn more about how Commitment Based Management can help with project delivery in your organization? Reach out to me at and we can continue the conversation.