Monday, January 11, 2010

Beyond Carrots and Sticks

What motivates creative problem solving and innovation in the workplace? Enjoy this TED talk featuring social scientist Dan Pink. Dan Pink argues the case that present day thinking around managerial approaches and incentive based performance actually stifle performance, especially when more out-of-the-box approaches are needed to tackle a problem. He cites research from universities such as MIT, Carnegie Mellon, LSE to name a few to support this fact.

So what drives performance? Intrinsic motivators. People want to feel that what they do is part of something larger than themselves. They want to feel engaged, not by being told what to do but by being self-directed. Carrots and sticks don’t work in the new economy. Dan Pink posits that too many companies are still focusing on old world thinking about driving results and can learn from 21st century companies like Google, IDEO and Atlassian where new approaches like devoting specific time to non-work projects are driving results and employee satisfaction. At Google in particular, at least half of the innovative new products, including Gmail, have been created during this think and play-time.

What does the new operating system look like? It satisfies these human desires:
  • Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something we have a passion for
  • Purpose – the yearning to do something of value in the service of something bigger than ourselves

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