Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Perfect Nag

i've never had a blog before. And i have a bunch of ideas which i think are important and i am going to hurl them into the blog as we go along and i am inspired to do so. Tonight's memetic construct is the perfect nag - this come from the work we did on an activist personal growth system called co-empowerment.

The basic idea is to design for failure. Especially with project which have lots of individual efforts which need support, designing a perfect nag is one method to increase the chances of success of your project. It goes something like this.

You have a task list. You have an ally who wants to support you with making progress on this list (but likely is not especially involved in your part of the project). They agree that that they are gong to call and check in with you about how you are progressing. This is called nagging.

Perfect nagging is when you premeditate the script for what your nag says when you fail to do something you have promised to do. For example, do they get angry with you? do they cheerfully suggest a new deadline or other possible solutions ? do they send stony cold signals and wait for you to be appropriately apologetic and make suggestions ? Depending on who you are, and what you need - different answers would make sense.

The robust designing of perfect nags could save the world.

And we might be too busy for that (or as Vonnegut said "we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.")

1 comment:

Kelly L Taylor said...

This is cool! I heard from a woman last month who once had a teeenager in her class that struggled to come to terms with. He was the class clown, and whenever the topic in the class got heavy, he would 'lighten the mood' and she would be frustrated that their momentum was lost.

She said first she had to appreciate him for who he was. Then she went to him and asked him what his goals were for his future, which he was willing to share. She wanted to help him achieve those goals - was willing to let her do that? Yes, he was interested in having her help.

So, she asked him what she could do to help keep him focused on successful behaviors. He said that when he got out of line in class, she could tug on her earlobe - a signal for him to chill out. She agreed, and asked, "What if that doesn't work?" They agreed she could stand by his desk and nearly get in his face, while pulling on that same earlobe.

Because it was the reminder that *he* came up with and suggested, it worked for both of them. She didn't have to call him down or give him even more public attention when he was disrupting the class. He knew that his input was respected, and he respected her wish for a more orderly classroom environment. They got along much better.