Friday, August 08, 2008

Effort vs. Results

I remember having a conversation with my father when I was a kid about his company's employees. I was shocked to discover they were being paid by the hour. I remember following up with a question along the lines of "Wouldn't that encourage them to take lots of time to do their work?" He assured me that, although it was a possibility, it didn't happen very often. (and presumably he explained that people who did that could lose their job, so it was to their long-term advantage to not slack off)

Fast forward a few years later, when I'm in high-school and a student asks the teacher - after she explained a homework assignment - if any marks would be given for effort. I couldn't help but laugh out loud, thinking he was pulling the teacher's leg. He didn't join me in laughing or smiling (and probably shot me a dirty look). Uh oh. He was serious!?!?

Maybe I found that proposition silly because I figured there was no way for it to be reliably measured: it would have to be self-reported. How hard would it be to say "I spent 100 hours on this" when handing it in? And if I had completed the assignment in 10 hours and produced equivalent results to his, would that mean he would get more marks than I got because he spent more time?? Worse yet, even if it wasn't self-reported, how would it be measured??? And what about the difference between "brain time" and "body time"?

Nowadays, I understand why people are [usually] compensated by how much their skills are in demand and that it is possible to be 10 times better than someone else at what you do. Maybe I also did as a kid? That might explain my reaction in both instances. Could it also explain my drive for correctness? My passion for getting things done and done right?? Now here's a doozy for you: would this knowledge at a younger age have helped other students??? Or maybe I'm just being arrogant and that I should just shut up for being the nerd that didn't have any trouble with his assignments????


P.S.: Please go easy on me as I have been working on this blog post since November and it's only now that I have been able to finish it.