Shorts: Lean is Good (@leanisgood) on The Jackass fallacy

Bruce Baker from the Lean is Good Blog writes about performance evaluations and how they are set up according to the dominant philosophy of motivation in America – the carrot and stick. A small excerpt:

Psychologist Harry Levinson calls this the “great jackass fallacy.”  Dr. Levinson would ask participants in his executive seminars what they thought the dominant philosophy of motivation in American was.  They would quickly agree that is was the carrot and stick: punishment and reward.  He would then ask the participants to close their eyes and imagine a carrot and stick.  He would then ask them what the central figure in that image was.  It was usually a jackass.

I love it. It is an example of another mechanism of control to deal with employee heterogeneity, that worked in the past in a world of homogeneous products and efficient production, but has lost its ability in our modern world of innovation, autonomy, mastery and purpose. It is another example of a conventional wisdom that went bad and now is preventing managers from their real work – helping people excel.

Finally, it reminded me of something I wrote not a while back:

…we need to realize that the world is changing. That some things that we thought were true are not true anymore. There is a growing tendency of people to seek out work that not only gives them money, but also gives them joy, a sense of impact and work life balance. People look to use their strengths more and attempt to reach a state of flow. And we need to understand that money creates problems, because it is easy to compare …

People are not a jackass. Let’s put the carrots and sticks (and rules) aside and actually start talking to them.



One Response to “Shorts: Lean is Good (@leanisgood) on The Jackass fallacy”

  1. Thoughts about teamwork and competition « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] to the same measurement criteria. It is based on the underlining assumption that competition, or carrot and sticks, is the best way to motivate employees. And like many conventional wisdoms it is also unfortunately […]

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