Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Forgiveness Index

David Maister wonders about the level of forgiveness in organizations:

There are organizations and managers out there who will tell you that they want you to experiment, but if you ever mess up, you are tarred with an indelible black mark on your reputation. Other organizations and people are so loose with their standards that they never get around to following-up if people fail to meet them.

From this simple idea, I have developed what I call my "forgiveness index."

A forgiveness index of 0 means that if you drop the ball once, the person or the organization will label you for life. You might just as well quit now, because you're on your way out. The blade might not fall immediately, but the decision to drop it has been made.

Few people would want to live in an organization (or deal with individual people) this tough-minded, though I know a few institutions and people that operate this way. Some even pride themselves on so doing, on the grounds that as elite organizations, they need to test people in action and cannot afford to carry those who can't make it.

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