Culture of Intrinsic Motivation LO10167

Dr. Scott J. Simmerman (74170.1061@CompuServe.COM)
25 Sep 96 14:06:42 EDT

Replying to LO10143 --

Roxanne Abbas (LO10143), Phil, Bill and others are posting some good
ideas about motivation and the issues and opportunities it provides.
And, given my 20+ years of playing with this stuff, both as an
academician, a consultant, and a bookseller, it seems that there are
some simple approaches as well as some highly complicated ones.

Skinnerian behavioral psychology (my early stuff) positions one to view
the world as a series of events where a stimulus produces a response,
which when rewarded, is strengthened in frequency or magnitude. Good
stuff. But my experience is that while sales people operate like
pigeons, the stuff of quality, innovation, and collaboration gets a bit
more complicated to impact.

Pavlovian or Classical conditioning is a bit different, more like
salivating thin liquid mucus when I say, "Cracker" (not the Southern
kind but the thin, crisp, dry salty ones) and thicker saliva for
"pickle." It's a direct result of the stimulus / consequence pairing.
One can get into Anchoring and some other more metaphysical stuff about
how this links to behavior, but this too seems a bit hard to actively
manage in today's corporations.

So, eventually, we come back to pushing and pulling wagons <g>.

Wagon pullers (leaders) are more easily motivated by extrinsic,
contingent rewards as well as by the natural intrinsic ones. These
rewards relate to seeing progress being made related to the View From
The Front of the mission and visions of the journey forward. They also
have a bit more directive input, in general, into how things are done
and they can take some pride in their accomplishments.

Wagon pushers have a bit more difficulty. Their View From The Back is
mostly of boards and hands and are often "up to their axels" in mud,
alligators and other demotivators. Progress for them is less visible
and few take pride in the sweat equity of their efforts. Heck, pullers
so seldom even thank them for pushing in such tough circumstances.

So, I've found a real practical solution to this motivation thing.

Visually, it shows one of the guys at the back of the wagon who has
IMPLEMENTED one of his round wheel ideas on his end of the wagon. He's
smiling and gesturing to all, "Look at that!" Now the wagon is still
rolling on 3 other Square Wheels, but at least he feels good about
seeing his idea implemented and about the incremental improvement it has
made for his corner of the wagon.

The wagon puller, in all reality, may not have even noticed the change.

The reality is that we can accomplish a lot by allowing people to
implement their ideas and suggestions. This is the essence of intrinsic
motivation and ownership.

They get the natural pride in doing a better job, make their wagon
workplace a bit easier to roll, and may even get some recognition from
their peers. There is no extrinsic factor (like money) to cause any
negative comments from others and they can actually remove a demotivator
(this is easy as well as very potent) from their job.

So no wonder the schools aren't too motivating; my son has very few
opportunities to have his (new) ideas accepted because the teachers are
too busy doing things the way that they have always done them, Thump

We tend to make this "motivation thing" difficult and there are zillions
of articles, ideas and opinions about what to do. For me, it's simple:

"Don't Just Do Something, Stand There."
"The round wheels are already in the wagon."
"Nobody ever washes a rental car."

For the Fun of It!


Scott Simmerman Performance Management Company, 3 Old Oak Drive, Taylors SC USA 29687-6624

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