Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review of Daniel Pink's talk on The surprising science of motivation

As I mentioned last week I've started having my daughters watch TED Talks.  My oldest daughter watched Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation.

Here is her review of the talk:

Daniel Pink opened his TED talk with an amusing story about going to Law School and apologizing for having been a lawyer. He then introduced the Candle Problem. A common experiment that measures how fast people can creatively come to the right conclusion. It found that the more money that was offered the slower the participants went, because the promise of money focuses them and limited their creativity. Pink also mentions experiments done by a Professor at Princeton University.

Most of businesses of today are built around If/Then rewards. Pink then introduces Atlassian a software company from Australia. Every once in awhile this company will have what they call a FedEx day. The programmers can work on anything they want but at the end of the day they have to offer something. Google has taken this one step further. Twenty present of their programer’s time is theirs to do whatever productive thing they want. Gmail and Google news came out of this.

A view less well known companies have taken this all the way in what is called a Results Only Work environment or ROW. ROW is when the empolyies don’t have a schedule and instead can do what they want as long as the get it done. This results in higher productivity, higher worker engagement, lower turnover, and higher worker satisfaction.

Daniel Pink sums up with three points. If/Then rewards have narrow application and often destroy creativity. And once the issue of money is out of the way high performance comes not from a promised reward but a healthy drive to succeed.  

If you haven't seen the video, it is worth watching:

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