Spent an interesting morning watching Ted Talks – Dan Pink on motivation. I (qualified) like this talk. Why qualified – well, I need to read and think a bit more…especially reviewing James Robinson’s Milbank Quarterly paper “Theory and Practice in the Design of Physician Payment Incentives”, and do the usual review all the research I know, and especially the research I should know! Gotta get this done for next year with Doug at SFU
SO what’s to like? Well , first it doesn’t debunk high powered financial incentives , presented as contingent monetary rewards for clearly specified contingencies/task outcomes. Pink just claims that those are limited to a narrow set of circumstances where clarity exists and ambiguity, creative cognitive effort don’t – clearly specified mechanical tasks. In ther talk environments (the candle problem) intrinsic motivation reward systems work better- involving autonomy (self direction) mastery (cumulative improvement) and purpose (working for something more than just yourself) . He cites examples of a small Ozzie software firm that has a FEDEX day – i.e. take the day to work on something not your work, report back in a wild and woolly group meeting tomorrow. Then he cites Google’s 20% day – which as he presents it is 1/5 of your working time devoted to ideas YOU want to cultivate (I don’t know about reporting requirements). Then ROWE – which i can’t remember what the acronym works but it means – do your job, doesn’t matter where when how…..sounds a bit like academia!