I agree that simplification is the only way to go. More and more companies are realising the benefits of reducing sales cycles, negotiation times etc together with ease of understanding of contracts by key stakeholders and customers.
I agree that too much emphasis is often placed on covering off risk when a certain amount of risk is an element of all contracts. Managing that risk in an intelligent manner is key and part of that management is using the right contract terms for the relevant offering. IACCM's VCU Framework will help companies to manage uncertainty through contracts.
We would welcome the opportunity to explain the benefits of contract simplification and design together with the VCU Framework to your senior business and legal teams. Please reach out to me personally if you would like to discuss. My email is pdoyle@IACCM.com
VP and Global Head of Research and Analytics
Thank you for your comment and yes there is signficant research and resounding evidence to confirm that visuals can support clarity and understanding in contracts - no matter which element of the contract. And yes we would deem it perfectly acceptable to have graphics in certain sections - not all. There are some elements of the contract that lend themselves to visualization more than others. There is a lot of material in our Resource Library on this topic and this particular piece of research should help you too:
my suggestion would be to have editable "visual templates" (e.g. in PowerPoint) in use already during negotiation. Depending on the topic, they could be owned by business or legal negotiators. You can use these in presentations and outside of contract documents to facilitate reaching the meeting of the minds about key topics for your relationship/transaction, and modify them collaboratively with the client. At the end, you just add the static version of the diagram (exported e.g. as jpg or png) to the contract, like a snapshop documenting what was agreed together.
In order to minimize effort, create negotiable visualizations only for topics that are crucial and would actually benefit from increased clarity and shared understanding.
If you want an example of such a use case, you may want to have a look at this article that appeared on JSCAN (it is part of your IACCM Membership): journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2055563616669739
Let me know if this helps, and feel free to reach out again!
• Passera Design
just wondering if you would be willing and able to submit your example on the IACCM Contract Design Pattern Library (even in a partial/edited/anonymized form if you so wish). We have a section on timelines, and your example would be in good company: contract-design.iaccm.com/timeline
Submissions can be made here: contract-design.iaccm.com/contribute
I am available for any question regarding the submission and publishing process. :)
• Novo Nordisk
Thanks Stefania, very practical suggestion! I found the article and look forward to reading it.
Paradesha Farms Handmade Natural Soap Co
As far as the interpretation will not be different from one to one. Most importantly is to have the same interpretation by all readers/audiences including and most importantly "judges" :)
• The Cincinnati Insurance Company
Your initiative is interesting and thought provoking. Having lived and worked in Latin America, I can clearly see where an approach such as you presented, would work well and actually generate an increased level of buy-in and trust, in an area where there has historically been a great deal of mistrust. Applying a similar approach to business contracts is applicable. Limiting the legalese to where it is required, and reducing the contract terms, conditions, requirements, where possible, to layman's terms, not only would reduce the size of the contract, but would also increase the understanding of the contract among the stakeholders. Increasing the stakeholder understanding of contract terms and conditions will benefit all parties involved.
I like this idea. 15 years ago(!) a colleague tried to introduce 'plain English' contracts to a UK Aerospace manufacturer. It had some success, but ultimately didn't take hold. I am guilty of saying "execute" instead of "sign" and "pursuant to" instead of, er, well nothing really.
Highly appreciated initiative. Increasing the user friendliness of contracts are, in my view, not prioritized. But you are up against a tradition and practice that is hard to change, even through graphic illustrations are proven to have multiple benefits.
Camilla Andersen gave a presentation on Comic Contracts in the last local DK IACCM meeting facilitated by Ramboll. Where you place yourself in the scale of using graphics (visulisations supporting the text or a full blown comic contract) may depend on the case, audience and "environment" you are operating in..
Camilla also provided this link: www.comicbookcontracts.com/
You should contact Rob Waller, he did some great work for us in this vein as well as simplifying complex contract legal language for use in Term Contracts or MSA's.
• Health Quest
Thank you, Gary, will do! I did check out the link you provided and definitely liked what I saw. It is exciting to know that there are folks out there who believe in revamping and freshening up the way we do business on paper.
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