Re:Incentives LO1162

Joe Kilbride (
Thu, 11 May 95 16:44 CDT

Re:Incentives LO1118, LO1121, etc.

I find the incentives thread interesting as I personally have struggled
with this for several years. Confession--what first made me shy away from
Deming was my unwillingness to accept his point #11 of the famous 14
points, i.e., Eliminate numerical quotas and MBO.

Ultimately the debate about incentives, motivation, merit, appraisal, etc.
comes down to extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation. For me personally, one
of the biggest obstacles to letting go of the idea that management systems
must be based on extrinsic motivation (rewards, commissions, incentives,
goals, etc.) was the evidence that these methods work. Most managers, like
myself, have PERSONAL experience of how goals, rewards, incentives have
led to better results. This "learning" is hard to overcome.

The AHA for me was in realizing that extrinsic motivation is an effective
way to get improved performance from a BAD system. We have designed our
organizations and much of the individual work in them so that the
intrinsic joy and motivation possible thru work is stripped away. In such
circumstances the only way to improve performance is via extrinsic
motivation. It is how we have learned to make the best of a bad situation.

The answer lies in redesigning our organizations and people's work in ways
that make the work itself intrinsically motivating. Give people "whole,
satisfying jobs" as Marvin Weisbord says. Make learning, and the intrinsic
motivation that comes with it, a key design feature of each and every job.
Until we do so, MBO/goals/rewards/incentives will remain a staple of

Yes, I do recognize that designing orgs/work for intrinsic motivation is
an extraordinarily difficult task. This will probably be the most
challenging part of the transformation of American management.


Joe Kilbride --
I never said it would be easy,
I just said it would work.
-- W. Edwards Deming