When I was in high school, the DTR was the kiss of death on any blossoming relationship. The DTR is the “Define the Relationship” conversation. It’s when you set the boundaries, list the expectations, discuss the disappointments. We used to talk about DTRs like they were the plague. Once you had the DTR, it was only a matter of time before it was all over.
Today, I believe a little differently. DTRs are painful, and to be honest, they’re not always appropriate, but sometimes, they’re oh so necessary. Every new contract we establish with a customer requires a DTR. Usually, it occurs after months of work (depending on the scope of the training project) and it usually feels like an “oh crap, it’s all going to be over and I’m going to lose my job moment,” but the truth is, it’s necessary with EVERY new customer. Much like dating, customers enter into contracts with great expecations, instead of being great kissers, it’s about how much you give before you want more money, and instead of “going steady,” it’s about having dedicated resources. I really used to freak out about DTRs, but these days, I welcome the opportunity to find out what the customer expects and what I can do about it.
Most training contracts are left with a great deal of ambiguity that reflects the looseness of the analysis associated with it. At some point, you have to decide what’s appropriate, how many resources should be dedicated, what’s a reasonable amount of time in which to expect results, and how much you have to pay to get from what’s in your head to having the program in real life. DTRs can be tough, but they’re worth it.