does a word still count?
… it depends.
My philosphy is that it should. For example, in case of promises, commitments for a new project. This has happend to me lately. Unfortunately, the client could not back his verbal approval of a proposal of mine with a written email or alike. In times of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) this proved to be difficult. Procurement or controlling have to formerly approve every single proposal. Now, this is not new. But why does this need to take so long. There is a good reason for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and we needed it. The downside is that well too often it has slowed down business significantly because it has increased the workload of procurement and controlling departments significantly. In addition, controlling and procurement departments may not have the business understanding to approve project proposals. And it should not be necessary because other departments make these decisions. Not so with SOX.
In my case, I believed in a commitment given to me which was not yet in writing. I stopped my acquisition activities for other projects. This was a costly mistake. For 3 weeks later I am still waiting for the final written confirmation that I can start the new engagement.
Lesson learned: When it comes to contractual work, a word is good but worth nothing unless it is in writing and formally approved by the relevant departments (controlling, procurement, etc.). Do not interrupt business development activities until you have actually started the new engagement.