Sunday, April 06, 2014


I have been reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead Books, New York, 201). It is very interesting and relevant to both staff and clients.

He starts be reviewing scientific evidence which demonstrates that contingent rewards don’t work and in fact can be dangerous. Pink summaries these findings in a chart “Carrots and Sticks: The Seven Deadly Flaws” The flaws are:

  • “They can extinguish intrinsic motivation.
  • They can diminish performance.
  • They can crush creativity
  • They can crowd out good behavior.
  • They can encourage cheating, shortcuts and unethical behavior.
  • They can become addictive.
  • They can foster short-term thinking.”

 Pink shows that rewards and punishments only work when the behavior you are trying to increase is formulaic and repetitive, involves no problem solving or creativity. I can’t think of anything that we ask our staff or clients to do that fits that description.

So what do we do instead to improve performance? Pink describes that people respond to  autonomy, mastery, and purpose. How can we increase those for both our clients and our staff?

If you would like to hear the master himself, check out this TED talk:

Let me know your thoughts.

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