"Count what is countable. Measure what is measureable. What is not measureable, make measureable." -- Galileo

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Validation, Reassurance, Recognition

From Sharon Melnick's perceptive piece in today's HuffPo, here's an excerpt that has relevance to the Plone software community, not just individuals. I have taken editorial license with it in order to emphasize its appropriateness to the Plone community of users and developers. My comments in brackets [...].

Many [software systems] are seeking approval on a daily basis, though they may not be consciously aware of it. From in-depth conversations ... as a business coach and trainer, many report typically engaging in the following behaviors to seek validation, reassurance, or recognition:

• working obsessively in order to get a "pat on the back" from a ... client
• saying 'yes' to everyones' requests but not finishing what you need to do
• exhausting yourself being perfect to make sure others think well of you
• asking others' opinions even though you know in your gut what to do
• worrying about 'politics' and what others think about you
• stealing credit from others

Equally frequent are behaviors in which people avoid or procrastinate in order to prevent other people from being able to criticize or reject them:

• have good ideas but don't assert them ...
• procrastinate so ... work can't be commented on
• stay mired in comfort zone of details instead of thinking strategically
• avoid direct feedback

All of these behaviors put energy and attention into managing other people's perceptions of [one's system]. This is how people act when they have doubts about their value.

I'm pleased to report that I see little of this in the Plone community--contributors may work compulsively, but its not for that bigger paycheck, certainly not in the open-source world. Intrinsic value of the job keeps people at it because its the right thing to do. While its true, in the long haul recognition of good work as part of an open-source project does translate into opportunities, whether a new job, better consultancies, or other perks. But this doesn't mean that Plone is running solely on ego power and that's a good thing.

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