Beyond the Bonus

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind looks at what businesses can learn from science when it comes to motivation in his new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Riverhead, 2009).


Daniel Pink

Comments [15]

Laurie from Princeton

The dichotomy between I and X is as old as time. One of my first lessons in economic values (I'm in my 50s) happened when I asked my mother why we didn't have the things other families did. She explained that she and my father both were teachers. Even a two-income teacher's family (unusual then - most Moms didn't work) earned far less than the average businessman, banker, or doctor. But she taught me that there were reasons to work, and live, other than money. Sadly we live in a culture where money is the only value most people believe in, and that belief lets them strip-mine the environment, exploit other cultures with other values, and generally ruin the world for short term gain.

Jan. 07 2010 10:43 AM
Dw Dunphy from Red Bank, NJ

The conversation with Mr. Pink was enlightening, but ultimately chases the uncatchable animal in terms of the banking industry. He was appalled at the concept of the banks and their unmotivated excess in terms of their bonuses, rewards and unfettered greed. At the same time, our elected officials remain unmotivated about doing anything.

It's frustrating. A whole generation will grow to learn that if you want to be truly "free" in our society, you need to go into the banking industry where pesky things like consequences no longer apply - That's the see-saw balance that needs to be struck. You must find a motivation that feeds a sense of one's personal well-being and doesn't pander to the carrot and stick approach, but at the same time there needs to be a sense of consequence for not performing well. If you get paid well to lose, what's the incentive to win (cough, cough, Tom Coughlin?)

We are in the same boat as we were last year. The corporations were being bailed out but handed out big bonuses. This year, after public furor and funds, and a lot of political tongue-lashing, the corporations still handed out big bonuses. No change, but we did get a lot of rhetoric and threatening talk.

I actually tried that myself today. I stood outside and shouted at the atmosphere, "Be 65 degrees right now or else I will make you pay dearly!" Guess what?


Jan. 05 2010 03:18 PM
Lisa from Brooklyn

Wanted to add on the topic of motivation in the schools that Special Education schools often use something called a "token economy" which offers positive rewards for children working on specific behaviors. They earn points that can traded in for things like little toys or for things like extra computer time. Like ABA, which is used for young kids with autism, the idea is that constant praise and reward of positive behavior is much more effective than punishment. After a while, the positive behavior -- like raising your hand -- hopefully, becomes a learned behavior and the reward is no longer necessary.

Jan. 05 2010 11:50 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

When I taught piano, the rewards of daily practice and weekly lessons were difficult to grasp for "little Brian" and my other young students. I had a system of stars to evaluate each week -- my students didn't practice for stars but it gave them a tangible assessment of the their preparation or progress. And they had a good idea of how they would do -- I'm really prepared this week I'll get 3 stars or I didn't practice I don't deserve any. When they accumulated 50 stars (generally from Sept through May) they would get a reward -- a statue of the composer (they could choose a composer if they wished). They did not practice for stars but it was a tangible motivator. Adults need these as well -- though the huge bonuses and outsized salaries paid to those in the financial community are definitely excessive.

Jan. 05 2010 11:46 AM

this children's book just doesn't sound as funny as his others!

Jan. 05 2010 11:45 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

I agree with the Englishman. Incentives are needed to some extent. It is a national agenda much improved from ours-simple "get what you can any way you can-hey, we admire Mafia-types, THE GODFATHER"? It is just a BOTTOM LINE society that is amoral.

Jan. 05 2010 11:44 AM
j from bklyn

most of the population is probably more intrinsically motivated. then there's bankers, who go into banking because they want to make a lot of money. Some will respect the rules, but as we've seen, enough won't and bring the rest down with them.
not to take away from this authors' book, but if you want to look at what should be done, yes, this book. if you want to read about people who don't care about the rules most of us play by, the see Snakes in Suits:When Psychopaths Go to Work

Jan. 05 2010 11:43 AM
Ellen from Brooklyn

I volunteer at a soup kitchen in Manhattan that has been open every saturday for 25 years. It's entirely staffed by volunteers, from the board to the dishwashers, and it offers a lot of autonomy to the volunteers in terms of how and when to come and what to do when you're there. I've done other volunteer work but never at a place that inspires such long-term devotion from both volunteers and guests, and I think the reasons for that have a lot to do with the kinds of motivation that Pink is talking about.

Jan. 05 2010 11:42 AM
Susan from Kingston

Carrots and sticks rarely ever worked to motivate me. Engagement with ideas and possibilities have always motivated me.

Jan. 05 2010 11:41 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Since they censor here, this is all I have to add.

Jan. 05 2010 11:40 AM
Hans from Borrklyn

How do we fix this problem at work:

Type I employees do very well for their career, producing much better work than any type X.

25 years on, they look at a typical type X, and realize that this person is retiring 10 years earlier, has been to plenty of places in the world, etc.

Why? Just because the type X was going for money while the type I had no real goal.

So the next generation observes this, and says "I'm not going to be that sucker who spends my whole career working my butt off, only to retire with less."

Jan. 05 2010 11:39 AM
Nate from Manhattan

And isn't a "guaranteed bonus" an oxymoron?

Isn't it just a way to increase salary without calling it salary?

Jan. 05 2010 11:37 AM
GW from Bronx

The open source movement lays lie to the myth that a profit motive is needed to produce excellence. Most people outside of the technology community are not aware of this . We all have drunk the cool aid about the importance of keeping an economy that relies on greed to motivate innovation.

Jan. 05 2010 11:37 AM
hjs from 11211

we are talking about bankers and stock traders aren't we?
bankers are not scientists

Jan. 05 2010 11:35 AM
Peter from Central New Jersey

Wasn't there a study that came out 2-3 years ago that foung performance was inversely correlated to th size of bonuses?

Jan. 05 2010 11:34 AM

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