Accountability is both social and personal

What do school group projects, volunteer projects, and ongoing campaign coordination have in common? They all involve working with people where the rules are slightly different than the standard work situation. It’s one thing to think about the psychology of a group when everyone gets a paycheque; it’s quite another when the common ground is highly precarious, mutable and constantly shifting, and people assume their highest priorities are anything but t the volunteer work — and while that’s a legitimate decision, it’s one people don’t like to make explicit.

People can and do use social commitments as a form of accountability. I am more likely to do work in an expeditious manner if I know I will be meeting someone, in person, who is counting on mme having done my work. It’s a bit of a cheat, perhaps, but most people won’t question it if the work gets done.

But there are also occasions where the excuse of the meeting has failed in motivating someone to do the work. I’ve been here and guilty of this. But when time is stretched across so many projects and meetings and schedules are so tight packed, it is vital to understand that if the work hasn’t been done, then meeting is not working. Meeting is only working if you are coordinating work that you are doing outside the meeting.

Sometimes I lose sight of this and sometimes I think others I work with have lost sight of this. In either case, it’s worth underscoring, remember, and keeping close to heart, and I think it explains not only the missteps of others but also my own.

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