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Posts Tagged ‘Alfie Kohn’

Placed Above The Herd

July 9, 2014 2 comments

Alfie Kohn‘s “Punished By Rewards” is the classic go-to book on why/how rewards destroy intrinsic motivation and fuel intra-group competition and politicking. In “Want To Stay Productive? Turn Down The Next Award You Win“, Drake Baer gives yet another example of the motivation-busting effect of reward systems.

Math Medalists

Do medals, advanced degrees, fancy titles, and huge bonuses tend to fatten the heads of their receivers (and their givers) to the point of lazyness? Do they create an attitude of entitlement in the minds of their receivers (and their givers)?

W00t! I’ve arrived! No need to do real work anymore. I’ve been placed above the herd by those who have the “authority” to do so – and who, by extension, are two levels above the herd.

Instantaneous Feedback

March 12, 2012 2 comments

Alfie Kohn wrote a whole book on the subject. So, what subject…. you ask? Why, it’s the subject of the “venerable” yearly performance review created in the bygone era of the early 1900s. Specifically, Alfie’s book conscientiously provides details on how to get rid of what Dan Pink describes as the “highly stylized ritual in which people recite predictable lines in a formulaic way and hope the experience ends very quickly“.

In case you don’t want to, or are afraid to read Alfie’s heretical tome for fear of tossing a grenade at your existing mental model, Mr. Pink gives the subject some treatment as point number 12 in his FLIP Manifesto: “Scrap performance reviews”.

Dan gives not only 1, but 3 ideas for drop kicking the yearly performance review out of the borg and into its rightful place in obscurity. My fave is number 2:

I know, I know. Abolishing the yearly performance review can’t possibly work in your borg. Your business and industry are “different“. It is the way it is because it is the way it has always been and it is the way it has to be. Case closed.

Six “C”s

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Whoo Hoo! I found another non-mainstream heretic to learn from: Mr. Alfie Kohn.

I’m currently in the process of reading Mr. Kohn’s book: “Punished By Rewards“. PBR is a well researched and eloquently written diatribe against anything that reeks of the Skinnerian dogma:¬† “Do This And You’ll Get That“. Mr. Kohn is a staunch opponent of rewards, punishments and any other form of external control.

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed. – Unknown

Applying his rhetoric to parenting, the classroom, and the corpricracy, Alfie cites study after study and experiment after experiment in which all external motivational actions perpetrated by “authorities” achieve only short term results while destroying intrinsic motivation and ensuring long term, negative consequences – like reluctant compliance and uncreative, mechanistic doing.

The classic (and reasonable) question posed most often to Mr. Kohn is “if rewards and punishments don’t work, what alternatives are there Mr. Smartie Pants?“. Of course, he doesn’t have a nice and tidy answer, but he cites three “C”s: Choice, Collaboration, and Content, as the means of bringing out the willful best in children, students, and employees.

Much like Dan Pink‘s big 3 (mastery, autonomy, and purpose), creating an environment and supporting culture in which Alfie’s three “C”s are manifest is devilishly difficult. In familial, educational, and corporate systems, their hierarchical structures naturally suppress Alfie’s 3 “C”s while nurturing¬† this 3 “C” alternative:

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