Thursday, August 20, 2009

8/10/2009: Daniel Pink’s Motivation 3.0

Chautauqua morning lecture by Daniel Pink features his theories of motivation: how business (including education, which he specifically discussed) can make employment more creative, fulfilling, and productive. Pink cites research showing that when employees are incentivized for their work product, on tasks that require cognitive attention, productivity and quality actually drop. Connections to the 2008 Wall Street fiasco are made in passing, but it seems to me that just as the investment and mortgage banks’ compensation policies led to a lot of destructive nonsense, the compensation policies of the knowledge economy of the U.S. in the 21st century are equally out of whack. Pink recommends paying everyone fairly—“to take the issue of money off the table,” in his words—and then implementing the following template for “Motivation 3.0” as transcribed by the Chautauqan Daily, 8/11/2009, page 5: “This system has three components. Autonomy is the desire to direct one’s own life. Mastery is the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose is the desire to do something in the service of something larger than oneself.”

While listening to the lecture, I note that the initial letters spell AMP, which is easy to remember, since it reminds me of the “amp” (amphitheater) at Chautauqua.

What Pink calls Motivation 1.0 is simple survival, which served the human species well for many millennia. Motivation 2.0, carrot and stick, worked well enough through the 20th century, but now a new approach is needed.

On the issue of merit pay for teachers, Pink says he once thought it was a good idea but has changed his mind. He agrees that schools have to have more power to get rid of bad teachers. Sounds to me as if what he is advocating is something similar to the independent school model: Pay teachers as much as you reasonably can, get out of their way, let them be creative, but keep them on 1-year contracts so that anyone can be nonrenewed.

My wife wants to know where Pink’s children go to school, and she predicts it is Sidwell. Guess I should investigate. My prediction is that it is a Montessori school. [Note: I learned some time after this post was originally written that his children attend an independent school in Washington, D.C., but it is neither Sidwell nor a Montessori school. My wife and I were both wrong.]

Will be attending a class today through Wednesday on creative problem solving, conducted by Jody Brooks and Gary Shields. Format is mini-lecture punctuated with game-playing and improv. For example, in “What are you doing?” the object is to answer anything except what you are pantomiming, and then your partner has to mime what you said and be prepared to give a wrong answer when you ask, “What are you doing?” The game goes back and forth until somebody either repeats, fumbles the rules, or takes too long to come up with something.

Recitals today: 4 p.m. Audubon String Quartet with guest David Salness, evening solo recital by Da Wang, winner of the Chautauqua piano competition and a $7,500 prize. Wang’s performance of Chopin and Haydn leaves me cold, but his Liszt is superb. His encore, an arrangement of the Turkish Rondo most likely done by Liszt, shows unbelievable technique.

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