Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. If you think about it, the rewards described in this video are the very things that motivate blog writer to provide their content for free.


TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts.

Comments

  1. #1 MadScientist
    February 12, 2010

    Over the years I’ve heard numerous stories about how rewards (or penalties) routinely accomplish the opposite of what they are meant to. For example, rewards encourage cronyism (how else did CEOs set themselves up for ridiculous remuneration packages). Another obvious problem with the rewards is that useless monkeys (*most* managers – but not all) will claim credit for work they did not do while blaming problems they caused on others. Asslicking is alive and wellin the workplace – just like 2700 years ago (and probably longer). On the penalties side there was (and still is) nonsense such as “Zero Defect Policy” in which you must address defects in the domain of your division within a certain time or be penalized. That results in people putting in phenomenal efforts to shift blame when in the past the people in one division may have taken time to fix problems which they have the capacity to fix but which would otherwise typically be the responsibility of another division. Another offshoot of that policy is that it takes longer to get a job done because rather than fix a trivial fault, some guy will not fill out paperwork for another division to do that work and the work will have to be scheduled and so on.

  2. #2 Kevin H
    February 12, 2010

    It strikes me that academia might actually be fairly efficient. It seems to fallow all of the rules of motivation for creative work quite well.

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