• Karlene Betteridge

The Second C: Commitments


Trust is the foundation of relationship. It is a simple concept and the fundamental expectation that determines the outcome of any relationship. I’ve recently picked up Dr. Brené Brown’s latest book, Dare to Lead, and am rumbling with the concept of leadership driven by vulnerably and what that means for myself, BRITT Land & Engagement, and doing business in the energy industry. After spending decades studying vulnerability, Brené discovered that trust is built in very small moments over time regardless of the type of relationship.

So, what does this mean for stakeholder engagement; the relationship and conversations between a company of people driving a project and a group of people impacted by a project. Commitments, I would say, therefore, requires full engagement. One does not exist without the other, and if you break it down, a commitment would not exist without a communication. Commitments don’t pop up out of nowhere; they are a result of conversations meant to establish trust. We often hear from clients that commitments tracking can be overwhelming, and I think that’s because the task of aligning the human element of a commitment with corporate policies, culture and internal/external communication strategies can be daunting, if not unnatural because it can’t always be done face-to-face.


Another contributing hurdle in commitment tracking is how a commitment is defined. Each company, regulator, jurisdiction, industry and individual has their own definition of a commitment. The most common definitions I have heard in the stakeholder engagement community include small “c” and big “C” commitments. The former most commonly identified as verbal action items and the latter as any formalized commitment signed and agreed to in a written contract. However, I’ve seen companies track only contractual agreements, to companies that track “Meet with Joe at 5:00pm and arrive half an hour early” as equally weighted and important as another big C commitment. The confusing part of commitments in stakeholder engagement is that the definition of a commitment can be a swinging pendulum, influenced by so many factors. When trust is the foundation of relationship building, establishing the definition of a commitment as it relates to a project and corporate culture is step number one.


It doesn’t stop there. Tracking a commitment in Excel is one thing, communicating the commitment to the people that need to follow through on what is stipulated is another. Too often I hear that an engagement team or land agent establishes a commitment, and the construction or community relations team didn’t know of, or understand, the commitment. Trust and communication are not only important with stakeholders, it’s also relevant to the success of commitments tracking internally with a team of people and an entire organization working toward the same goal.


At BRITT, we believe that trust drives relationships forward with each other, with our clients, and between our clients and their stakeholders. We use our years of experience to help develop commitment tracking strategies and recommend systems to track commitments for ease, foresight and peace of mind. Our goal is that stakeholders feel confident commitments are understood and adhered to, and that your team can clearly identify and track the commitments that impact reputation and ultimately, project success. We will help you keep track of all the small moments that develop a trusting relationship with stakeholders.


We’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, please email us at info@brittland.com

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