My Creative Workbook

Christine de Beer - effortless floral craftsman

Say "I Do" to design decisions

This is my article that I wrote for the Bridal Design Issue of
Canadian Florist Magazine

How committed are you to see it through?

Frustration, conflict and disappointment is usually rooted in poor communication, specifically poor communication of expectations. Communicating expectations requires much more than just setting and accepting expectations, it also requires communicating the level of commitment to the expectations.

A bride asks you to make a bouquet, and provides a picture of her desired design. Is she committed to that design even if it is expensive, or is her commitment the shape but not necessarily those specific flowers? Do you commit to delivering the bouquet even if the flowers are temperamental and you have to do the design multiple times, or is your commitment subject to your own artistic interpretation of the picture?

Say ‘I Do” to design decisions

Failing to communicate these commitment levels can easily result in a breakdown of the relationship, even though everyone understood the design brief.

According to the dictionary, commitment is: the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity. This implies commitment has shades. It is not just on or off, there are many levels of commitment. The definition also implies commitment is emotional, so you cannot force a person to commit. The best approach is therefore to understand your own commitment levels and those of the people around you.

Do you commit to delivering quality arrangements, even if it reduces your margin, or do you commit to quality as long as you can ship 20 arrangements per day? Does your staff commit to delivering the order even if it requires over time, or do they commit to the order as long as they can influence the complexity of the design?

Sheer flower girl basket

There is no right and wrong, only understanding.

It is worth it to explore the level of your own commitment right in the beginning of each creative endeavor. This will make it much easier for you to decide whether it is worth the sacrifice and investment it requires to achieve success. Not only for you, but also those around you.

There are 4 levels of commitment; defiance, compliance, conditional commitment and unconditional commitment.

Defiance is still a level of commitment, even though it is an absolute absence of commitment. A good example would be agreeing to using a specific vase, just because you don’t have the energy to discuss it, but you know in your heart that you will use a different vase. Your vase choice may still be better, and the client may still end up happy, even though you were defiant.

Compliance usually results in the agreed outcome, but it is a taxing and exhausting journey because true motivation is lacking. A bride may comply with your condition that all center pieces must not obstruct the view of guests, but she will ask you at every opportunity if they can be made higher, "like in the picture."

Conditional commitment is recognised by the "as long as" clause. Your staff may commit to working a wedding as long as they can start packing the mechanics by 11pm. Now things are starting to become easier, you have commitment as long as the conditions are met. The bride will commit to your creative guidance as long as she gets 10 arrangements, with white roses and within her budget.

Unconditional commitment is where work is no longer an effort. Things just happen because everyone is unconditionally committed. A good test is to ask if you are committed "even if…" Do you commit to growing your flower shop even if you can’t draw a salary for the next year? Does your driver commit to making the delivery even if it is difficult to get into the building?

It may initially be difficult asking yourself, and others, to be explicit about levels of commitment, but it get easier if you accept the answers without judgement. Understanding levels of commitment will always improve communication, and reduce frustration, conflict and disappointment.

Thank you Canadian Florist Magazine for inviting me to be part of your beautiful Bridal Design issue

Thank you Canadian Florist Magazine for inviting me to be part of your beautiful Bridal Design issue.

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