I was involved in a discussion on what it means when a team commits to something. In this particular case one person thought that it meant the team will do what it takes to deliver this. I on the other hand I meant the team thinks it can deliver all this and will try to do it. A big difference. Yesterday I read an interesting post on this topic. I like how he talks about soft and hard commitments and this was exactly what I think the difference was in the argument I was involved in. I was thinking soft commitments, the other person hard commitments. And I must agree that in my ears commitment by default sounds hard.
One thing I don't quite agree with in that blog post however is that Kanban a no-commitment framework. It may look like that on the surface but I doubt a team doing Kanban where there is no real team spirit will do a very good job. So even though Kanban does not prescribe any kind of commitments it self, the kind of soft commitments that are mentioned, i.e. an emotional commitment to the team is essential to be successful in my opinion.
And the same kind of argument goes for Scrum I guess. I do not think scrum prescribes any kind of hard commitments. Only bad implementations of Scrum have a PO that demands hard commitments and teams working with hard commitments will also not be very successful over time. This is also mentioned in the blog post linked above so I'm not really disagreeing. I just think that well implemented Scrum is already in the "soft commitment only area" of the graph.
So I guess the conclusion you can draw from all this is that you'll get better results with only soft commitments. And that is hardly any news. Teams that work well together can perform well under most conditions. And teams with no cooperation will probably fail under all circumstances. So getting the team to work well together should be your absolute top priority. And also the use of words are important. Choose your words carefully and make sure that everybody has the same understanding of what a certain word means.
I agree that leaving words open for interpretation will lead teams in opposite directions.