The theory of goodwill accounts

It is amazing to see how fast a team can fall apart, an experience I had to make with the team I worked with. With the consequence that the project failed, and with it the planned startup… Of course, there are forewarnings (I wrote about them in my tips for unsuccessful team work), but it seems to be difficult to act accordingly even if you recognize these forewarnings. So I think there must be something I missed in my previous analysis.

My guess is that everyone administrates more or less unconsciously a goodwill account for everyone with whom he interacts. The initial value of such an account depends on your personality. If you are a distrustful person, the initial value is very low or zero. On the other hand, if you are a trusting person, this value is relatively high. You can redeposit some goodwill if you do something the other person thinks is worthwhile (e.g. answering a question). But if you do the opposite, i.e. you do something which does not fit the expectation of the other person, you withdraw a certain amount of goodwill from your account. That works fine as long as you do not overdraw your account. If you overdraw, it makes BUMM!

The crux is that you do not know the balance of the goodwill accounts you have at other people nor do you know the amount which is withdrawn or redeposited for a particular action. So the best thing you can do is to redeposit as many goodwill as possible.

Btw: You can find an actual example of someone who is on the way to overdraw (or has already overdrawn) his goodwill accounts in the CakePHP google group.

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 31, 2006 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Don’t you know it’s rude to point?

  2. Posted June 1, 2006 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    @MJR/slef: I assume you refer to the link to the google group. Well, this guy made a mistake. So what? Mistakes are there to learn. So I think this thread is very instructive: you see some mistakes but also some very good reactions. That is the reason I linked to this thread, and not to give someone a roasting.


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