Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

What Motivates Us

Just watched this informative and interesting TEDTalk from TED Global 2009 by Daniel Pink, a career analyst. He discusses psychological experiments that show how participant's creativity is stifled when presented with a task that holds a high reward for achievement. Participants have tunnel vision- focusing on the reward itself versus tapping the lateral thinking needed to complete the task. On the flip side, Google or companies like Best Buy, have learned how to break away from older organizational structures and have made gains in productivity. Employees at Google can spend 20% of their "work" time doing anything they want, a time that has resulted in such blockbuster products as gmail. Best Buy doesn't have official 9-5 hours, recognizing that people have a life beyond work but are also dedicated to their jobs. And a better example, good ole Wikipedia, continues to get updated without a single paycheck to its writers.

How can we harness this information to health care reform? Reducing energy and saving the environment? Am I more likely to lose weight and maintain my health if I know doing so will have a direct, positive effect on my fellow health care pool? More so than a decrease in my insurance premium? Am I more likely to motivate others? Am I more likely to turn off the lights because it will save me a whole $3 on my next electricity bill? Or because I know that in the long run, I am contributing to the greater, environmental good.

TED itself (specifically the TED Prize) exemplifies that idea of motivation for the greater good. Thousands of people pay thousands of dollars to not only learn and network, but figure out how they can harness what they've learned for the greater good. These are people that have, for the most part, already found extreme success and wealth but want to give back.

Maybe I'm making too many connections to the study, but it's something to think about. Or maybe, it's those steep bonuses that got us into this financial mess in the first place. Would we be in this place if they thought about the bigger picture, rather than blinded by the greens?