Jul 16, 2009

Good act, bad act. Hard Choice

A wise guy once told me that if you do 10 good deeds and then 1 bad deed, people will remember the bad one. I knew he exaggerated but there surely is some semblance of truth in the statement.

Making the simple assumption that the statement is absolutely true how does one go about making a decision about doing a good or a bad deed. I roughly tried to calculate the probability that a deed at random which i do is good. Nowhere near 10/11. And considering our original statement, that i have to do atleast 11 good ones out of every 12 ones so that people may not as much remember the bad one, i was in a tight spot. Now i know why it is so easy for one to do wrong.

Let us take example of a typical workplace. Person A and B work under the same manager. Both are given 11 tasks in a period of time. A does 8 satisfactorily and 3 he screws. B does 10 satisfactorily and screws 1. Our theory (and the experience of the wise guy) says that the manager will remember the screwed tasks for both A and B and hence provide similar rating to both.

Of course one can't go around screwing every task but one can surely device a method by which he/she can optimize the excellent/screwed task ratio which results in maximum personal gain as well as professional gain. The model can be further strengthened by throwing in a few other parameters like the point in time of the task (hint: recency effect), task visibility (irrespective of its impact) etc.

Am i missing something or was i late in recognizing it? Let me test it and i will post the results.