In my last blog I talked about the ineptness of organizations to hold people to account. I fear that this is fast becoming a lost art. Successful project are accomplished through a series of successful deliverables. Attaining the right deliverables at the right time can be tricky if the requests for those deliverable are weak. The path to success lies in the committed request.A committed request is a request that fully commits the requester and requestee to a desired outcome. There are three elements to a committed request. These are the what, when and how of the request. For a committed request the who is contained in the how. You will see this in the example below. The why is not important for a committed request but could be a factor in getting the requestee to commit. So let us take a look at a sample request.\u201cPlease provide me with your sale forecast.\u201dThis sounds like a pretty standard request. But what is to be delivered? What does the sales forecast look like? There may be a norm in the organization and it might be well defined. If so you can merely ask for it in the standard format. But that format better be well defined somewhere. We will assume that the format is not well defined and therefore we will need to define the format here.\u201cPlease provide me with your sales forecast in an Excel Spreadsheet format. Products are to be shown down the left-hand column in alphabetical order. The next 36 months, starting from the current month, are to be shown across the top in chronological order. Each product for each month is to be completed and rounded to the nearest $100. Totals for each column and row shall be shown as well as a grand total in the cell at the lower right of the spreadsheet.\u201dAs you can see this is pretty specific although there are still some loopholes. For instance, should the cells show a dollar sign for each entry and should cents be shown even though all numbers are rounded to $100. So you see that the more specific the request becomes the closer you will get to the desired results.The next piece of a committed request is the when. In the case above there is no time stated for the delivery. Here is an example:\u201cDelivery is to be made by 5:00 PM on Monday October 19th, 2009.\u201dNotice that not only is a day stated but also a time. If you just ask for a day is typical that the requester is thinking that start of the day and the requestee is thinking the end of the day. Beware, this is true for large projects as well. Let\u2019s say that the engineering group tells the sales group that they will deliver by September.\u00a0 The sales group is thinking September 1st while the engineering group is thinking September 30th. You also want to avoid vague time frames like \u201cclose of business.\u201d Different people have different ideas for what close of business means. I used to ask for weekly reports to be delivered by close of business on Thursdays. I would then define close of business as being 8:00 AM Friday morning as that is when I would start preparing my weekly report.The last piece of the committed request is the how. Again, be specific.\u201cThe spreadsheet should be delivered electronically to my email address and in hard copy format to my office in-basket.\u201dNotice that there are two deliveries requested here. How often do you hear the excuse that an email was lost? Sometimes it is true that emails get lost. Hard copies get lost much less often. As you can see the who is contained in the how.So here is the final request:\u201cPlease provide me with your sales forecast in an Excel Spreadsheet format. Products are to be shown down the left-hand column in alphabetical order. The next 36 months, starting from the current month, are to be shown across the top in chronological order. Each product for each month is to be completed and rounded to the nearest $100. Totals for each column and row shall be shown as well as a grand total in the cell at the lower right of the spreadsheet. Delivery is to be made by 5:00 PM on Monday October 19th, 2009. The spreadsheet should be delivered electronically to my email address and in hard copy format to my in my office in basket.\u201dThis is a far cry from \u201cPlease provide me with your sale forecast.\u201dThe outcome will also be a far cry different.