Magazine article Risk Management

(Kwol' I Tee) N: Degree of Excellence

Magazine article Risk Management

(Kwol' I Tee) N: Degree of Excellence

Article excerpt

"They didn't do what they said they would," I heard Ed, one of our staff members, declare in frustration. Immediately, I was reminded of a day long ago when my sons, then eight and ten, were both drawn up in combative stances while the ten-year-old yelled, "He promised!" And much to my surprise, the younger boy declared, "No I Didn't, Mom. All I did was Say that I would do it. I did Not Promise." It was then that I realized my eight-year-old had already learned to speak in capital letters, but had not yet learned about keeping his word without the formality of using the phrase "I promise."

I was yanked back to the present when I heard Ed say, "It's been more than two weeks since the underwriter said she would call me right back." He and I discussed what the underwriter could have meant by the phrase "right back"; but, by no means could we make fourteen days equal "right back."

According to Webster's College Dictionary, one example of the adjective quality is "producing or providing products or services of high quality." I have a strong suspicion good old Mr. Webster would have presupposed that "services of high quality," written contract or not, would include service providers doing as they said they would.

I became concerned as Ed recited a list of other service providers that he believed were not performing adequately. His frustration had started with this single underwriter and grown into a discussion of the many others that had recently disappointed him by not keeping their word.

It was at this point that I had another blast from the past. I remembered that the incident between my two sons had become an opportunity for me to teach my younger son about his word of honor and what it meant to "keep his word."

Apparently, my sons had already reached the age of doubt (in no way to be confused with the age of reason), when parental statements are obviously unbelievable. Our conversations were often punctuated with facial expressions that said, "Show me where it says that in writing." They already knew how to read, so I had long since taken to pulling out some reference or another to help when either of the boys was emotionally charged.

In this instance, I looked to the dictionary to help them with the noun "word. …

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