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  • Diana Schneidman

Freelance and consulting: The tyranny of accountability

I’m coming to hate the word “accountability” when applied to creative decision-making, whether in developing a marketing plan or something more compact such as a title or slogan.

Please. I don’t need more accountability and I certainly have no plans to pay for others to provide it to me.

Everyone wants to be our accountability coach. It’s the best job in the land, and if we pay someone for it, it’s even more rewarding for them.

It can pay darn well. I’ve seen many programs costing in the thousands that appear to be big on canned instructions and accountability accountancy but weak on how to make the branding / marketing decisions unique to what we are doing and vague on how to implement.

Fortunately (?), there’s also lots of accountability coaching available for free.

I should know. Not only have I been the recipient, but I’ve also given it to others, whether asked or not. So sorry. I apologize.

Sometimes the accountability offer follows a brainstorming session. Sometimes it follows a single suggestion. Sometimes it comes totally out of nowhere.

The other person (or regrettably, me) bullies the victim into setting tight deadlines and then promises to harass (or more precisely, to follow up) so the deadline is met.

Some people need accountability because they share a certain trait: laziness.

I, however, am not lazy. I have experienced other roadblocks in determining how to proceed with my own business, but not laziness.

I have found that some issues simply need time to marinate.

In practice, pushing an unready idea to scheduled unveiling feels like pushing string. And persisting often does not lead to a solution that feels right.

Here is a quotation from Lisa Hunter that I have had on my bulletin board for years:

It just wasn’t the right rhythm to finish it in that time frame.

What if I were to believe this is true?

In what ways does it change how I feel at the end of every day?

Yes, when we have an artificial deadline, we can resolve to meet it. But it may be better to allow the idea to marinate rather than hastily meet the letter (i.e., due date) but not the spirit of the assignment.

Fortunately, I have found a way to promote a more timely but satisfactory completion. I schedule myself to think about the project actively—even journaling or outlining—for at least 15 minutes every day. In addition, I remind myself about the decision to be made prior to falling asleep each night so I literally sleep on it.

I trust that the solution will appear, and it always does.

When the work to be done needs a creative decision, a plan to continue planning is more effective than a drop-dead date for completion.

Lisa Hunter:

Originally posted 10-7-12

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