"So, Igor, what's the problem? It's the end
of the day, and you're usually happy when we get together
for a brew," said the King to his No. 1 contractor and owner
of Moat Designs. Slide Rule, the King's No. 1 architect,
took a sip of his watered-down wine. "Is it the
new project you're doing?"
The three of them had sat down on three-legged stools in
the shade outside a pub and eatery. The King's servants
hovered nearby ready to assist the King.
Slide turned toward the King. "He's got a little project
outside the Castle walls."
"Thanks for that Slide," responded Igor.
"Igor, are you doing work for others?" asked the King.
Igor looked at the King, knowing he might now be in
trouble. "I'm sorry your Majesty. I just wanted to pick up
some extra shillings."
"Igor, my friend, it's fine with me that you're getting
extra work. Good for you."
Igor looked relived.
"So, what's the situation? Tell us about it, perhaps Slide
and I can help."
"Well, the project started out fine, but now that it's
done, the owner is upset. He said I didn't do what he
The King waved for another round of drinks.
"Sounds like that's simple to correct. Just show him the
paperwork as to what you've agreed to do, and that should
settle it. You know, contract, project reports, material
delivery, closeout documents, punch list … the usual."
Igor was silent. Slide was silent. The King was silent.
Then, the King became angry.
"Are you saying to me in your silent way of communicating
that you have no paperwork?"
"Yes, I have no paperwork."
"You're an idiot."
"I agree," said Slide.
"Do you know what the famed Hollywood movie producer Robert
Evans once said?" asked the King.
"Movie producer?" responded Igor.
"It's a future thing. Don't worry about it. So Igor, do you
know what Robert Evans said?"
"No, your Majesty."
"How about you, Slide?"
"No, I'm not even sure I know what a movie is."
The King took a sip of his wine, and for dramatic effect,
stood up to address them both. Another Master Class had
"Robert Evans said the following … 'There are three sides
to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no
one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.'"
"That really clears everything up," said
The King just stared at Igor.
"Sorry your Majesty. Could you explain that to me?"
"In your case, it concerns the delivery of professional
services, but it also applies to those that manufacture a
product or provide a service, and even to the retail market
that sells the product. There must be clear documentation as
to what is being delivered, no matter who you are."
"Waste of time," said Slide.
"Really?" said the King. "Are you saying that providing me
with a contract is a waste of time?"
"No, no, your Majesty. It's just time consuming. I just
don't see how it can help."
"Well, look at your buddy Igor. He's probably going to get
involved in a long court case that is going to take time and
"So, proper documentation can save you money?"
"Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. You see, going back
to the quotation by Robert Evans. Igor has 'his' side of the
story. His client has 'their' side of the story. And then
there's always the truth, or what really happened. Memories
tend to fade. People exaggerate to try and win."
Igor's mood brightened. "If I understand
correctly, documentation helps get to the truth. If I
had to go to court I could just present the documents
to the Judge and tell him, this is our agreement, this is
what I charged, this is what I delivered. I did it on time and
under budget. Is that what you're saying?"
"Yes, you got it!" responded the happy King.
"But what are they going to do now? I mean, they're
fighting," asked Slide.
"The only thing he can do is apply reason. Get all of your
notes together and sit down with them and lay out what you
felt was the agreement, and try and reason with them. If there
is a difference, then make an offer to correct it, and if it's
new work that you would have to charge them for, then …
can you tell me the answer Igor?"
"Get it in writing."
With the exception of an occasional guest
appearance by the author, any similarity to actual
events or people living or dead is purely
Ronald A. McKenzie is president of
COMPASS Consultants Corp., a strategic planning
and marketing company specializing in developing business
growth. He is a published author and has made nationwide
presentations on the subject of strategic planning and
marketing. He can be reached at (630) 740-4434