Re: Definition of Learning LO1029

david.r.dobat (
2 May 95 15:32:26

Replying to LO1004 in which Ivan Blanco states


One is born with intrinsic motivation, self-steem, dignity. He inherits
joy in work, joy in learning. These attributes are high at the beginning
of life but are gradually crushed by the forces of destruction...." Among
other things, Deming included as forces of destruction grades in school,
merit system, incentive pay, MBO, etc.


I couldn't agree more with this line of thinking. I am struggling with
these vary notions within my own organization and find it hard to even
begin to question the underlying assumptions behind performance and
incentive based approaches to "managing". I have begun a conversation on
our internal Notes discussion database where I suggest that others read
some great work by Alfie Kohn in his book *Punished By Rewards....*. In
this work Kohn outlines the basic underlying philosophy behind what he
calls the "if you do this you'll get that" approach and the reasons why
these approaches are not effective at motivating (or anything else). He
makes a strong case, as have Deming and others, that incentive based
approaches tend to undermine the very activity they are designed to

For a summary of Kohn's work see *Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work* in the
Sept./Oct. 1993 Harvard Business Review or his book referred to above.

By the way, I invited persons in my organization to offer different
perspectives. If I receive anything interesting, and get permission from
the individuals, I will post a summary of the responses here.

David R. Dobat
Host's Note: Just for the record, the quote mentioned above is, I
believe, a quote Deming provided for the dust jacket of the first
printing of _The Fifth Discipline_ and is:

"The prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are
born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity to learn,
joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with the toddlers oe a
prize for the best Halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars oe and
on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, divisions are
ranked oe reward for the one at the top, punishment for the one at the

"Instead, the job of management in education, industry, and government
should be the optimization of a system (not its fragmentation into
Management by Objectives, quotas, incentive pay, business plans, put
together separately, division by division). Peter Senge's book, The Fifth
Discipline, from which I have learned much, is a good place to begin."

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

-- Rick Karash,, host for learning-org