Nudging Reward Systems

We have all grown up with structured short-term reward systems. This continues throughout life.

“As we entered the workforce, the good grade, became the paycheck, the recognition, and potential for raise or bonus…The rewards system of the tradition workplace keeps us on track, in line with deadlines”

These rewards feel good, that is why we seek them. The dreamers often find a place that doesn’t feel so good when the reality of making it happen sets in. A different approach is needed.

“To successfully lead your team (and yourself) through bold creative projects, you must find ways to re-engineer your reliance on traditional reward systems…You must embrace a different set of values that may feel uncomfortable to you and may even appear unwise to others.”

Most fail here. Rightfully so, it is hard! Willpower alone will not save you. You must nudge your short-term reward mechanism toward intrinsic motivators.

“Whether it means prizing the value of lessons learned, building games into your creative process, or getting gifts upon certain milestones of achievement, self-derived rewards make a big difference…You cannot ignore or completely escape the deeply ingrained short-term reward system within you. But you can become aware of what really motivates you and then tweak your incentives to sustain your long-term pursuits.”

Be intrinsically motivated and aware of intrinsic success. Every day has something to teach. People come and go throughout a lifetime. Find joy and fun in your task. Be thankful. These are Zen teachings that require self-awareness and patience.

On a broader scale, open source communities often have an intrinsic reward system and have the key feedback element of intrinsic success.

It is important to recognize that we are driven by reward systems. As always, the golden choice is what you do with what is given.

(quotes from Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky)

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