Lean Blog Audio — Human Nature Around Incentives & Rewards


Dr. W. Edwards Deming used to warn against replacing intrinsic motivation with extrinsic rewards and incentives.Brian Joiner (author of Fourth Generation Management), who worked with Deming, warned that setting targets and quotas can lead to three things: improving the system, distorting the system, or distorting the numbers.

It’s often easier to distort the system or the numbers than it is to actually improve. We’ve seen that happen (gaming the numbers) in situations ranging from the VA waiting time scandal and the recent Wells Fargo scandal.

It’s predictable human behavior for managers to try to entice people to perform better through promises of rewards or threats of punishment…

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