Accountability and Incentive

Some tasks are difficult or unpleasant. For that purpose, I believe in the power of social accountability, which can take one of many forms, some more radical (hence effective) than others. In this post I list a few strategies that come to mind, some of which I have successfully employed in the past.

Potential Solutions

I find negative reinforcement a more powerful agent, but you can also find ways to bind positive rewards to the timely realization of your experiment. This can involve a financial reward, equity, or service from another party, all in addition to the gratification you already experience from carrying out the task. You can also combine positive and negative reinforcement.

A US-based service DietBet features some of the ideas discussed here in the domain of dieting.

To venture a step further, you can convert your task into a sort of financial product for others to invest in, bet for or against analogous to options trading, and speculate on, if that stimulates your taste. If this idea were to mutate into a financial product, I don’t suppose any rationale could inhibit these products in being packaged into more compound instruments, analogous to hedge funds or CDOs in the financial market. The notion, however, entirely digresses beyond the scope of this post.



My intent is of strictly motivational nature in proposing these ideas. None of the ideas are novel, but I nonetheless witness many struggling in the realm of accountability when one of the strategies could provide the needed catalyst. This has worked for me on a number of occasions. On the other hand, my intent in contrasting the ideas with financial instruments is purely academic and beyond the initially envisioned scope. Lastly, enjoy the process of delivering on your promises. It feels spectacular.