Dan Pink: Rewards and incentives don’t work

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At TED Dan Pink (a favorite of mine) presented surprising evidence showing that rewarding performance financially does not lead to higher productivity in competing individuals and groups when any skill at all is involved. Rewards work well enough when the competitors just have to complete a simple task quickly. But as soon as they have to actually think outside the box, using the right brain, any financial reward actually lowers people’s productivity.

So what raises our productivity? What really motivates us? What makes us tick as economic animals?

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

“These are the building blocks for a completely new operating system for our businesses,” he says. He then goes on to talk about how Google and Atlassian have instituted autonomy and self-direction in their companies (13:00).

Seen on Ann Michaelson’s blog


2 Responses

  1. Definitely. The whole amazing online and open source community thing is powered by the same sort of motivation.
    I find myself writing very differently for the blog than for Spotlight. The blog is a place to associate and dream and think while I’m writing. Clearly more right brain activity going on here. And then comes the picking and choosing and selecting. More left brain there.

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