Re: Incentives LO1078

Michael McMaster (
Fri, 5 May 1995 09:08:23 +0000

Replying to LO1053 --

The incentive pay conversation is a _hot_ one. Must mean its got
something to do with what's important to us - even if only because we
haven't worked out money for ourselves. At any rate, its hot.

To suggest that reward and effort have nothing to do with each other
is not going to fly. To say that we can get people to work harder,
do better, etc by incentive alone won't pass any serious challenge or
measures over time either. Oh no - do we have a complex adaptive
beings operating again? (That is, for example, will people figure out
how to use the systems, whatever they are, for their own ends?)

There is a company in Seattle that makes sewer pipe connections. Not
too high tech as you might imagine. They have a unique pay system.
If you want a raise, you put your request on the bulletin board.
Everyone who wants to comments on it, including how much they think
you should get - if anything. The amounts offerred are averaged and
that's how much you get.

This company has taken a world leadership position in its industry
and has more employees than can know each other personally.

I don't know if it's still so, but in the "good old days" the world
series winners often had a team meeting and decided amongst
themselves how to allocate the winnings.

So there's lot's more possible than what's being looked at.

The problem with "incentive pay" is that it is solidly based in
mechanistic, reductionist psychology. There's nothing "wrong" with
it. It's just that, if you start from that place, you'll have to
deal with the kind of problems you get when you treat intelligent
systems (people, in this case) as if they aren't.

Michael McMaster