Re:Incentives LO1212

Dickover - Melvin E. (
Mon, 15 May 1995 08:42:58 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO1204 --

On Sun, 14 May 1995, Michael McMaster wrote:

> Here I am, drawn back into the "motivation" conversation. Melvin's
> comments suggest a new tack that I can't resist. After accepting a
> mechanistic and reductionist view of motivation, he says,

Believing that each person's individuality should be respected, elicited,
and satisfied is reductionistic but humanistic, and effective.

> > For an incentive "system" to work, the sytem must somehow learn what
> > motivates each individual, and tailor itself to each of their needs. All
> > other schemes will motivate only a portion of the people.
> Let's apply his statement above to the city of London. If it had a
> single council, we might go to the council and point out that "of
> course people aren't working, crime is rampant, children are failing
> at (or even not attending!) school and other examples of failed
> motivation are everywhere. The city is not designed to take account
> of the motivation of each individual." This insight, and the advice
> that is implied, aren't likely to be much help. (Although, god
> knows, it might be better than the approaches most cities actually
> take!) ...

Try to establish one shoe size for the city of London. People's minds
vary far more than their feet.

> The challenge is also meant to provide a background to say that what
> "motivates" people might indeed be individual and unique but, to the
> same extent, it is also constantly changing for each individual. The
> problem as formulated by Melvin is much worse than it appears on ...

> I challenge you to apply the ideas of individualised motivation for
> a short but consistent period of time with your spouse, your family
> and/or your best friends and see if can even be worked at that level.

I have, it works and it is a lot of work. I believe this can be done on
organization scale. It means paying attention to what individuals want,
and trying to adapt. It also means paying attention to the organizational
"persona", the personality of the organization, its values and beliefs,
and dealing effectively with them.

Most incentive systems are structures put into place to reflect what the
inventors think motivates them, and they make the common, false
assumption that everyone else is (or should be) motivated by what
motivates them.

mel dickover (