By Kevin Weeks of Weeks Law

“A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door” – Confucius

At Weeks Law we execute all the normal real estate, conveyancing, mortgaging and refinancing transactions with which we are all familiar and deal with on a daily basis; but we also practice in the not so familiar fields of intellectual property, intellectual capital, knowledge management and systems development and integration.

Doesn’t sound very familiar? You probably also deal with this on a daily basis in your business and your lives without really paying much attention to it.

So for today’s article we thought we would take a macro 50,000 foot altitude scope to review what we all really do and how we should go about it by analogically speaking of Trains, Quarterbacks and Architects.

Trains, Quarterbacks and Architects, what do they have in common? Simply put, all three showcase varying aspects of programs, systems and processes. Just like our lives, businesses and careers are at certain levels bundles of interrelated programs, systems and processes. Some are organized and defined some not so much – unnervingly similar to the “Matrix”.

So let’s start and put this in perspective as far as career and work processes go. This will require an “AHA Moment” to really kick in.

Let’s start with the trains. Trains are the journey of which the successful arrival at the destination is the purpose of the exercise. So in the context of mortgages and real estate transactions, the journey could be the purchase or sale of the passenger’s home or the refinancing of it.

The Trains must run on time with their set schedules, timelines and runs and stops (or what are called milestones for those familiar with project software) but the entire journey is what matters to the passenger and the passenger wants to get to the destination on time and not be dropped elsewhere or be unduly delayed or become disheveled. If one is travelling from St. John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, BC one does not want to find oneself running late at Portage & Main, wondering what happened and what happens next.

To avoid such calamities is the business of the Architect respecting the overall design and functionality of the journey and its parts and those responsible for implementing and carrying out the architect’s plan are the Quarterback(s). These functionaries need to be identified as soon as possible and qualified.

No matter how big or small there are always multiple moving parts to any transaction. By way of example, real estate transactions involve a number of specialist players from beginning to end: realtors, appraisers, mortgage brokers, financial institutions, surveyors, property inspectors and lawyers amongst others. Each of these players may be a “Quarterback” for the particular part of the journey for which they are responsible. However, even though some of these parties manage sections of the Train track that overlap, there is often inadequate communication and feedback between these parties. Rather often the only common link between the quarterbacks is the client. One of the primary reasons for that is the client, quite often by default and without anyone really noticing, is not just the passenger but is also the architect. After all, the client usually is the initial instigator and the only one riding the Train from start to finish. They are the ones that ultimately bear the success or failure of their journey.

Unfortunately they are frequently neither experienced nor capable of properly fulfilling that function. And that is without getting into the emotional entanglements and escalations that invariably arise – especially when things are not going well.

Therefore it behooves all as soon as they become involved to acquaint themselves with the big picture and identify the Train, Quarterbacks and Architect. It is important for all Quarterbacks to consider the details, timelines, responsible parties and deliverables they are responsible for and how they impact the process of others quarterbacking parts of the transaction. For example, if the Real Property Report is not up to date at closing, a chain of events may occur that affects the timing of the entire transaction including financing. So although not a traditional responsibility of the mortgage broker, by simply becoming more familiar with the process and asking questions at the beginning, problems can be avoided.

By the time that the Train arrives at the lawyers office it is often too late to be dealing with the Architect and failed or deficient Quarterback issues without incurring adverse consequences. And that is why I always encourage all to call us as early as possible and certainly whenever an issue arises to avoid it becoming a problem at closing. Put another way, “I can tell you what to do or I can tell you what you have done”.

When something goes awry, human nature dictates that it is everybody else’s fault but their own. Regardless of fault, whenever there is a train wreck everybody involved ends up hurt, some more than others. Often asking a simple question early in the process can avoid such difficulties and keep everyone from being involved in a wreck, which at the end of the day is in everybody’s interest. By simply ensuring coordination with proper handoffs between Quarterbacks without fumbling and alerting each other to potential problems and avoiding “not my problem” or “somebody else will fix it” attitudes is often enough to achieve a successful conclusion.

The passenger on the Train always wants an enjoyable experience. If it is enjoyable it will be memorable and if it is a disaster it will be memorable. Either way they will be thinking of their experience including you and talking about it to others one way or the other.

For those who think all of this is obvious and trite with no “AHAH! Moment remember this: “The problem is not knowing what to do; the problem is not doing what we know”.

Think Trains, Quarterbacks and Architects and have a great day.


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