Carrots & Sticks

Carrots and Sticks
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The Economist recently featured an article on the need to package carrots as sticks to help people be more motivated. It is essentially saying that people responds more strongly to loss than gain but since companies need to make credible threats (a very game theory sort of idea) without being deemed unfair (as they would if they had threatened to dock pay) they will have to make their carrots seem like sticks.

But then, is it always about money? A couple of days back I was walking around the bookstore and I spotted a new book – Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he talks about the stuff that motivates us. We often thought of them as money but he figures out that it’s about “autonomy, mastery, and purpose”, which makes a lot of intuitive sense. The incentive systems in our world often do not drive ordinary souls to excellence. Perhaps, firms and organization must rethink their way they manage their people and this will revolutionize human resource departments and HR work.

The ideas in the book relates closely to another book I saw. It’s Richard Sennett’s documentation of the philosophy of craftsmanship, The Craftsman (reviews here and here). His definition of craftsmanship, “an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake” sounds like a logical consequence when an individual is well-motivated. Perhaps then, craftsmanship is the spirit to be promoted.

Once again, it’s time to stock up books…

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