How prepared is your startup to face unexpected absences from leaders or managers? The promise cycle can help you in the uncertainty

Being an entrepreneur implies adapting to changes and having a flexible vision.

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February 25, 2021 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

By Carlos Flores, Head of Business Development Mexico

Being an entrepreneur implies adapting to changes and having a flexible vision to react in a coherent and prudent way to the unknown, although it is in its nature to adapt, 2020 showed that there are many things to learn and adjust. The pandemic increased the levels of uncertainty not only in the business environment, but in people’s lives, previously economic, social or governmental movements were foreseen, but never an impact on every person and business in the world.

In Peter Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline , the importance of having a vision that everyone in the company can follow is discussed. Normally in organizations, the vision is embodied in stupendous walls, it is disseminated in the manifestos or in each newsletter, despite this, all these stimuli are ignored by most of the collaborators as advertising spots with smoking warnings. People do not react to inconsequential stimuli, until they are useful.

A few months ago, the CEO of Descifra , a startup promoted by Wayra of Telefónica Movistar, had an accident that prevented him from working for several months, the co-founders had to fill in the functions of the CEO. Most of the processes remain in the knowledge of the responsible person, but there is no communication of these procedures to be carried out by a third party in a contingency.

One of the best immediate reactions made by the co-founders of Descifra, was to meet as a team and speak clearly about the steps to follow, the reason for the company’s existence, and of course, ask for support in this time of crisis, to add everyone to the vision they were permeating. As Peter Senge points out, “A shared vision is not an idea. It is not even an idea as important as freedom. It is a force in people’s hearts, a force of awesome power. “

After having clarity of the shared vision, it is necessary to assign roles and responsibilities, an effective way is through the “promise cycle”, whose steps are described below:

  1. Establish an environment of trust to dialogue with collaborators. Having a shared vision helps create this environment of clarity and trust.
  2. Request the task in an explicit way and agree on all the details: time, form of delivery, quality levels, formats, etc., do not allow doubt about what is requested.
  3. Validate with the person to whom the task is given the clear understanding and obtain -an explicit acceptance- or, -an explicit refusal-. It is essential to have a forceful answer “yes, I can comply in the time and in the form” or “no, the conditions are not achievable”. In particular when doing innovation, it is essential to achieve clear and concrete agreements. In cases where you get the “no”, you can ask more questions to negotiate agreements such as: what can we achieve? What conditions would you need to achieve it?
  4. Agree with the person to whom you delegate a task the follow-up, ensure the completion of the task through reviews and intermediate adjustments.
  5. When the delivery time arrives there will be two options: a) The agreement is fulfilled, for which it is essential to thank and acknowledge the good work, or b) the agreement is not fulfilled, it will be necessary to make an -effective claim-, review the agreements , make a request to finish or carry out the task (corrective actions) and verify learning to avoid non-compliance (preventive actions).
  6. Restart the cycle, talk about learning to fulfill or not fulfill the task and reach new agreements.

Actions like these can be useful in this changing environment, do not let time pass and give yourself the opportunity to resume conversations with your team about the vision (the reason for the company’s existence) and look for the “explicit yes or no” when assigning tasks , your management will benefit.

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