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On Measuring Skepticism

In the Software Asset Management (SAM) industry it usually pays to have some degree of skepticism.

Skepticism for what? Here are some samples:

  • Skepticism among software customers: “We feel entitled to a certain amount of software products and are skeptical of claims made to the contrary.” 
  • Skepticism among SAM managers or consultants: “We cannot fully establish an accurate software license position (SLP) until we see evidence of discovery and license entitlement.”
  • Skepticism among software suppliers: “Our customers occasionally use more of our software than that to which they are entitled.” 

From time-to-time we at Siwel (www.siwel.com) see these different views collide.

Sometimes someone makes an honest mistake and software license rights must be corrected and/or additional fees paid. At other times, a party’s skepticism leads to excess confrontation or churn. In the more extreme cases we see customers migrate away from software products rather than deal with a supplier’s apparent skepticism.

So is there such a thing as the correct degree of skepticism? How much is too much?

R. Kathy Hurtt, in her 2010 article: Development of a Scale to Measure Professional Skepticism. AUDITING: A Journal of Practice & Theory: May 2010, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 149-171, created a scale for measuring degrees of skepticism (see “Skepticism Scale” below).*

Are you interested in measuring YOUR degree of skepticism?

Try-out the 5-minute challenge below (there’s no single correct answer) to assess YOUR degree of skepticism. The range is 30-180, with higher scores meaning more skeptical. Students might fall in the ~120 range. Auditors might tend higher. Circle the value that best shows how you generally feel about each item then add up the scores at the bottom.

SKEPTICISM SCALE

    Strongly Disagree     Strongly Agree  
I often accept other people’s explanations without further thought. 6 5 4 3 2 1
I feel good about myself. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I wait to decide on issues until I can get more information. 1 2 3 4 5 6
The prospect of learning excites me. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I am interested in what causes people to behave the way that they do. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I am confident of my abilities. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I often reject statements unless I have proof that they are true.  1 2 3 4 5 6
Discovering new information is fun.  1 2 3 4 5 6
I take my time when making decisions.  1 2 3 4 5 6
I tend to immediately accept what other people tell me. 6 5 4 3 2 1
Other people’s behavior does not interest me. 6 5 4 3 2 1
I am self-assured. 1 2 3 4 5 6
My friends tell me that I usually question things that I see or hear.  1 2 3 4 5 6
I like to understand the reason for other people’s behavior. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I think that learning is exciting. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I usually accept things I see, read, or hear at face value. 6 5 4 3 2 1
I do not feel sure of myself. 6 5 4 3 2 1
I usually notice inconsistencies in explanations. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Most often I agree with what the others in my group think.  6 5 4 3 2 1
I dislike having to make decisions quickly.  1 2 3 4 5 6
I have confidence in myself. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I do not like to decide until I’ve looked at all of the readily available information. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I like searching for knowledge. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I frequently question things that I see or hear. 1 2 3 4 5 6
It is easy for other people to convince me.  6 5 4 3 2 1
I seldom consider why people behave in a certain way. 6 5 4 3 2 1
I like to ensure that I’ve considered most available information before making a decision. 1 2 3 4 5 6
I enjoy trying to determine if what I read or hear is true.  1 2 3 4 5 6
I relish learning.  1 2 3 4 5 6
The actions people take and the reasons for those actions are fascinating.  1 2 3 4 5 6


*Reprinted with the permission of the copyright owner.

So what was your score? Is your degree of skepticism appropriate for your role?

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