+353 1 9055720 manoj@reeinvent.me

This morning, I had breakfast with a very good and old friend,  Our conversation went on to the subject of friends, teams, and children and how we motivate them. (or don’t)…

It reminded me of the story  about an academic who was writing on a book and some children starting to play football outside his house.  Now the sound of the ball and the children playing distracted him.  He obviously did not want them to play outside his house.

So he went outside to the children and said here is $1 dollar, do come here and play football everyday and I will give you money.

On the third day, he said, I am sorry I cant pay you but please come and play.  The children responded, we are not going to play here unless you pay us…

The motivation to play and just enjoy had been replaced by the motivation for money…

Vey counter intuitive….

Actually the real study was done by Stanford Psychologist Lepper – Undermining Children’s Intrinsic Intrinsic Interest with Extrinsic Reward: A test of the Over justification Hypothesis but I thank you for the artistic licence….

For some people money can be a disincentive or actual impair performance…

Now the classical Homo Rational model is that we do things for money and the more you pay the more “output” and motivation you will get.

Obviously stories such as these

The $38 Million CEO Who Out-Earned His Company Last Year


get the headline and make us think that money is the only thing that matters to everyone….

If everyone was totally driven only by money, I doubt if mankind as a species would have much such great progress (sometimes questionable)…

However this plainly is not enough.  How often do you hear the saying that the Millennials are not motivated by money.  The want purpose, or it should be fun or I want to enjoy what I am doing.  (this certainly is the case with the young people I know).

Now as we are all aware motivation is a very complicated topic.  It is situational, dependent on the person, and the task or objective.  Finding the motivator is more complicated than just money…  If life were only that simple. Money may work as a motive in transactional, simple system but even prospect theory tells us that once the needs of the day have been met, an additional dollar is always going to work.  Building reward systems only based on financial rewards may in the long run be counter intuitive.

Don’t we want to go to a restaurant where the cook is passionate about cooking and food or watch football where the players are passionate about the sport.

Or as in Eddie the Eagle film – the Olympic spirit is about taking part and being the best you can be…  This is very much about being authentic.

We all know what it is is like when a team member is passionate about their subject or their area of expertise and how we want these people on our team.  We don’t need to manage them as they want autonomy.

Deming popularised this with the concept of intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Oscar Wilde said everything is about sex except sex.  In the same way money is not just about money.  Master crooks don’t just do things for money but for power and status.

It’s not always about the money… it’s often about what it might mean in terms of status, power, what you can achieve with money.

Dan Ariely and Daniel Pink have also communicated that simple money rewards are not the only thing that matter and may actually be counter productive. 

We know that  using money and financial rewards itself can actually reduce creativity, productivity, and disincentive people.  People can lose their sense of purpose, sense of control and self belief at one end or create performance anxiety at the other end.

One could argue that the financial crisis was caused because the banking system having lost it purpose.

To illustrative my point I’d like to share some video’s  from RSA and TED which I think you might enjoy.  Both the speakers explain it very well

Dan Pink’s talk is very entertaining and enjoyable and the videos give you the background to the research on the topic.

If you are a lawyer I think you will enjoy Dan Pink’s talk….

If you are a leader, manager, parent (or even for yourself), I would encourage you to watch all the videos as each have a different story and context and you will significantly improve the context in which you frame your story.  They are in no particular order but each have an interesting story in their own right.






Trust you enjoyed the blog and it gave you food for thought.

I will at some point also cover the brain’s own reward systems and how these connect to the dopamine and reward systems of the brain which are the real rewards – it’s about how we feel…..