Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cash can't buy creativity

I admit Dan Pink  isn't  a name I was familiar with  till my neighbour  Kalayani Rangarajan made a reference to his work in her e-mail about a seminar  on motivation  to be held  this Friday,  at VIT University campus on Vandalur-Kelambakkam Rd., Chennai.. Dr. Rangarajan  is dean of  VIT Business School, and the seminar - a Corporate Conclave addressed to senior executives - takes off  from  Dan Pink's proposition on  'what motivates people to better their performance'.  Many of us can't be faulted for thinking cash rewards can motivate people to do better. This would be true in case of  shop-floor staff engaged in routine, repetitive work - machine operator, meat-packer or beedi-roller.
Money could be an answer in case of a strata of workers. But is it the only motivational factor ? Or is money an answer, at all ?  Dan Pink would have us believe money isn't what motivates people. In this regard he talks about three things -  autonomy, mastery and purpose.
This,  then, is the issue that speakers at the corporate conclave would address. Dan Pink, in his the book - Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us -  trashes the carrot & stick approach that companies adopt to motivate employees. The practice of giving cash rewards for better performance; of punishing those failing to deliver, says the author,  is outdated, unexamined, and is rooted more in corporate folklore than on scientific findings.
Many senior scientists, engineers and other professionals engaged in open-source  programme  tend not only do a better job of whatever they are good at, but they also give it away free to all-comers. It is not profit, but it is purpose that motivates people to do what they do in their discretionary time. Wikipedia is an example, says Dan, of what can be accomplished  if companies re-think the way they run business. Another example he cites in support of his case is the practice adopted at Google, where employees are allowed to spend  20 percent of their Google time (one day in a five-day week) doing their own thing; to work on their pet interests or project.  
VIT's Corporate Conclave
3 p m - 6 p m
March 1 (Friday)
VIT campus, Vandalur-Kelambakkam Rd.

Those interested can register their names for participation at this link.

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