The Commitment Principle
What happens when someone is no longer committed to the team or to winning? It happens in
sports. Team goals can become secondary to personal goals. Personal problems can take the focus
and the edge off winning. Personnel conflicts arise between players or between players and management.
Good examples of this exist in the National Hockey League (NHL).
The Eric Lindros saga is one of them. Throughout his career and going back to junior hockey,
Eric Lindros and his family have often been involved in disputes with team management.
One dispute resulted in Lindros not playing in the NHL for the complete 2001-2002 season.
Another way that the lack of commitment to winning is shown is through management not providing
the right players, the proper equipment, or the needed tactical direction. The result from insufficient
commitment, from either the player or from management, is that goal realization is jeopardized,
even with the most talented teams.
That result is no different with project teams. Project teams, including the sponsor who
represents the owners, must agree on the success criteria. The working team must have the knowledge,
skill and ability to achieve the goals. They must be enthusiastic about the project and the
work involved. They must be provided with the resources essential to reaching the goal. Conflict
may arise between team members or between team members and key stakeholders. While there are
many viewpoints on conflict in projects, discouraging destructive conflict facilitates goal
At the same time, the sponsor must be knowledgeable, skilled and able to do his or her job.
The sponsor must provide the resources and ensure the team has what it takes to be successful.
When the sponsor and the team set mutual goals related to scope, time, cost and quality and
in turn commit to realizing them, the project is well on its way to achieving those goals. In
the absence of commitment, failure looms.
3. Eric Lindros Chronology,
The Canadian Press, 21 February 2001, Retrieved 17 January 2003, from http://www.chl.ca/HockeyLindros/chronology-cp.html
4. Flyers' Clarke rehashes Lindros feud, Sportline.com wire reports, The Associated Press
News Service, 14 November 2001, Retrieved 17 January 2003, from http://ps2.sportsline.com/u/ce/multi/0%2C1329%2C4523621_60%2C00.html
5. Adapted from Stephen P. Robbins, 1974, Managing Organizational Conflict:
A Nontraditional Approach, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, pp. 11-25; and Stephen P.
Robbins, 1979, Organizational Behavior, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, p. 289; and Stephen
P. Robbins and Stuart-Kotze, 1986, Management: Concepts and Practices, Canadian Edition,
Toronto, ON: Prentice-Hall Canada Inc., p. 483.
6. M. Afzalar Rahim. 1985. A Strategy for Managing Conflict in Complex Organizations.
Human Relations 38: pp. 81-89.