Monday, December 6, 2010

Is Credibility The Ultimate Accountability Partner?

This is something I’ve been musing about lately, and I’ve had success with it enough in the past to know that, at least for me it is true.

Why is it that, when we shout something out to the World, we are much more likely to follow through than when we keep something private? Has anyone else found the converse to be true, that when you are quiet about your goals, you do better than if you announce them to the world?

I’ve been thinking about this the past several weeks, especially when it comes to the forum of posts that I make on this blog. I feel honor bound to post three to four times a week, even though there’s no official expectation of my doing that. I specifically felt it the most when I was doing a book review every week. When it got to the point where I couldn’t do one every week any more (or at least not in a manner that I would consider “in depth” enough to be worthwhile, I actually got a little depressed. Why? I felt like I was letting people down… people I have never met and in many cases never will meet, yet I still felt like I was committed to producing for them. Why? Because these were the people who were establishing my credibility as a tester and a writer.

This really made me think about the idea behind credibility. Who ultimately bestows on us the mantle of “credible”? Is it our boss? Our company? Our Peers? Our Community? I think it’s all of these at different times, but in some ways, I think the farther away the interaction, the more motivated someone becomes to establish and keep their credibility. When we are at work, and we interact with people every day, there are many excuses we can use to side-slip the ultimate issue of being accountable. I’m not saying this is a good thing at all, but it seems to be an inevitable thing. We expect leeway from the people we interact with every day. For those who don’t know me at all, or for those who only know me through TESTHEAD, my motivation is very different. I may only get one chance to build credibility with those eyes out there, so I only have one chance to make a good impression. If I didn’t chances are they won’t come round again.

I think in some ways this is what makes the things that I do on TESTHEAD and other places ultimately drive me and motivate me; my credibility is ultimately tied to my following through on the things I say I am going to do, and in the web space, I have no room for slipping or being late. Of course, I find that I cannot deliver exactly on time in many ways, and it’s entirely possible that those people out there that do read this blog really don’t care if I’m on time or not, but again, it matters to me, because I’ve chosen this platform to represent me, and whether it’s my best friend a block away or a complete stranger half a world away, TESTHEAD is me, and I am TESTHEAD (and we are all together… OK, bad and old pop culture reference, sorry :) ).

I’m serious with the above questions I posed, though, so I’d appreciate some feedback. Who else finds their accountability to be closely tied to their credibility, and does anyone else have similar reactions to it the way that I do? Really, I’m curious!


Matthew said...

Hello Michael. Your comment reminds me of an old line about setting goals.

The traditional wisdom is that goals should be written down, stated publicly and loudly, etc.

I dunno how rigorous his research is, but there is at least one ted conference presenter who suggests that making your comments public or written down can 'trick' your brain - it can essentially give your brain the same candy as if you had done the thing. So it cuts off your desire to follow through.

Here's the video:

I'll let you assess the accuracy of that.

I want to respond to the rest of your post but I'm crushed for time. Maybe more to come.

bharath said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Larsen said...

Hi Matt. I'm of the opinion that shooting your mouth off is generally good for getting goals accomplished, but I can sort of see the point of those that say taht the brain gets the candy when the announcement is made, and not following through is no big deal. Just looking at my blog posts, I see a bunch of places where, really, I haven't followed through entirely with some of the things I said I would. I'll be posting on that in the next week or so :).