Good fences make good neighbors

15 November 2006

We might as well accept it now: global warming is real. We live in a finite world with finite resources. Given that, why would we want to expend time and effort building fences. They just sit there. Maybe they contribute to the aesthetic but they won’t help the wheat grow any better in the field. Building them diverts productive capacity from planting, tending, harvesting. Be that as it may, long ago folks realized that good fences serve a purpose.

Fences create boundaries and boundaries define areas. And that’s the value: this is my area, that is yours. Positive relationships also depend on boundaries: this is my responsibility, that is yours. Contracts are like fences: they describe boundaries that define areas. We may be tempted to think that nice, intelligent, professional people can work out differences of understanding without the need for lawyers and contracts. But be not tempted. The jury may still be out on the question of whether there exist nice, intelligent, professional people. But the lawyers are here to stay.

Good neighbors build and maintain fences together. They share the responsibility and share the benefits. Contracts are necessary; collaboration is necessary. Contracts through collaboration. It’s less of a prioritization of values and more a matter that good collaboration generates good contracts, and good contracts support good collaboration. Good!