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About intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

August 26, 2011

That’s one good thing about being sick@ home: you can read without being people I mean. Real, face to face, human communication. I could disconnect myself from the world just now, but what’s the point of being totally alone? Belonging..that’s one of the intrinsic motivation one has. So I’m no different.

While reading Implementing Beyond Budgeting from Bjarte, I found this reference he does to another great book (Punished by Rewards by Kohn) and to a story Kohn tells about an old man. Here goes:

An old man who constantly is shouted at and insulted by a group of teenagers, decides one day to go over to the kids and sys, ” I’ll pay you a dollar for every insult you guys are able to come up with”. The F- words immediatly come flowing. The man duly pays up and asks the youngsters to come back the day after. ” Then I’ll pay you 25 cents for the trouble.” the boys show up and the insults again come strong and fast. The old man pays what he owes, but then he says that from now on he will only pay 1 cent per insult. “One cent???” the boys respond. “Forget it!” And they never come back.

This is the story. Money is an extrinsic motivation. It’s a carrot you put in front of the donkeys but soon the dunkeys see it as a stick.
Extrinsic motivators make us loose all willingness and passion we may have about stuff. It starts as something we actually feel its good, but then it turns out to be the devil whe sold out our soul to.

Belonging, mastery, autonomy, purpose, making the difference, uniqueness. All you value in your life has nothing to do with money for example. Think about all those things you have all for the sake of being happy, no matter what they cost.

Don’t fool yourself: money and all other extrinsic levers work. The question is for how long and while they do, if you really get the best of who is around you.
On the other hand, and regarding intrinsic levers, there’s a basic catch about it: people need to feel they are paid fairly. So the point is: pay people enough for them to not think about it. Them let them feel the magic of working in that place.


From → Agile, People

One Comment
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