Essay: Dan Pink’s TED Talk about Traditional Business Methods

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  • Subject area(s): Business essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published on: January 14, 2020
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  • Dan Pink's TED Talk about Traditional Business Methods
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In Dan Pink’s attack on traditional business methods, he reveals credible information that has long been neglected in the world of business today. Against our natural instincts, we find that incentives do not necessarily automatically mean greater efficiency. In cases involving intrinsic motivation, incentives diminish the lense of the creative mind. In the experiment of the candle problem, those with higher incentives worked slower than those who did not have incentives. It was mind-boggling to find that even the most traditional form of business is now outdated. The method of incentives is only sufficient for mechanical work, or work that requires low-creativity and low-skill to perform the simple task at a quicker rate. This connection led me to think about how traditional school is run at an elementary level.

Often in classrooms, there are point systems that reward students for answering a question correctly, cleaning up the classroom, etc… however although it may incentivize participation, it may simply promote good behavior in the short run and disregard creativity. In relation to a business, I think tailoring each task to balance autonomy and compliance would be difficult due to a lack of participation, however, it would effectively utilize the human mind. Although I do like the idea of self-imagination and letting the creative mind run wild, there needs to be another program that facilitates social responsibility and promote a more positive work environment that would convince people to dedicate more time to work regardless of a rewards system. In the radical version introduced where people can come into work whenever, wherever, it is hard to believe that most would be on top of their work that would result in a low turnover rate.

The most interesting part of this TED talk is when Dan Pink brings up how incentives narrow your vision. This was interesting because it made me think of the idea of perspective, or how someone will view a problem. Rather than viewing the problem as an issue that needed to be solved, it was viewed as if I finish this quickly, I will get something. With that being said, I wonder if rewards remove a part of pride in someone’s work and divert it into something external. It is interesting how Dan Pink used different examples even in different countries. In the example of the experiment in India, where he described it as a group who would view this reward in a higher value, I assumed it would bring different results due to a larger sense of urgency. However, it led to the same exact results. I feel that we progressed in so many areas where we’ve used technology to advance in motor vehicles, communication, and structures, but we are stagnant in our methods of business and education so I am curious to see how these methods would modernize our way of learning to better utilize our creativity.

Something else that seemed interesting was that this video was dated back in 2009 and these findings were discovered decades ago, yet our system seems unchanged and unbothered to these new revolutionary ideas so I am curious to see when these changes will be integrated into our daily lives.

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