If you had been ship-wrecked on a desert island for six months and only just been rescued, it probably would seem that you’d arrived on a twin planet in a parallel universe.
The world of human interaction now looks quite different. Closed borders, cancelled flights, empty ships and ports, clean hands, government restrictions, empty factories and shops, face masks, protests, queues, social distancing, disinfectants, medical emergencies, lost handshakes, home-bound work and internet-bound video conferencing: these are all hallmarks of the new parallel environment. Uncertainty is in the air and prickly red balls are everywhere!
The (non-virtual) reality has become apparent to us all now. This is the truth that is self-evident: we live in a rapidly-changing world. Everything around us seems to be in a state of change. Our life; our family; our job; our business. We are also changing with the times. And we will continue to do so. More and more quickly. The only constant is change.
We need planning and organisation. For change and uncertainty we need to respond with flexibility and alternatives.
Now is the time to check your existing contracts. Do they give you flexibility? Check your templates for future contracts. Have you got the flexibility you need? Play through the scenarios: natural disasters, health disasters, industry shut-downs, government limitations and delays, red tape, closed borders, subcontractor delays, increased costs: can you deal with it? Price change, performance scope, specification variation, change procedures, extension of deadlines, term, force majeure, termination rights: you need contract clauses to provide both flexibility and the greatest possible degree of certainty – in an uncertain world.
There is always some risk. In contracts we must try to quantify and minimise that risk. That is why we have boilerplate clauses. But now we all know: 100% certainty is dead, long live the boilerplate!