To Ponder: The Dark Side of The Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize is probably the best known and most prestigious scientific award. Nobels are awarded in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, Medicine, Literature, Economics and Peace - for those who "during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind."
But in recent years the Nobel has come under harsh criticism for two key flaws in its design.
First, both research grants and career choices of clever people are now being funnelled into projects that have the greatest chance of winning a Nobel. There is a sharp and notable opportunity cost here. After all - should the judging criteria for a Nobel form the benchmark for what we, as a human species, pursue?
Second, and perhaps even more importantly, the Nobel ignores a very important factor. Scientists don’t work alone. Scientific projects are completed by teams of very intelligent people, often spread across the world. Yet - each year the Nobel prize is named. A person wins it. It uses a ‘winner-takes-all’ method of attributing the credit of scientific discoveries.
But that’s not how we, as humans, progress.
Whether your believe our dominance on this Earth is given to us by one or more deities, or you align with the theories of evolution - there’s one thing that’s clear:
We are dominant due to our ability to work together.
And we are wired to do so! Love, play, empathy and competition all have an impact on our brain’s hormone levels and the decisions we make in both the short and long term. These are the tools that we use as a species to better inter-relate and grow together.
So this week, ponder:
How can you better reward a successful group dynamic?
To Reflect: Not All Rewards Are Made Equal
In previous weeks, and in my book, I talk of the Value Equation.
In short, it’s this:
The problem is, not all rewards are made equal. Some last a day, some last in perpetuity. There are 3 key types of motivational patterns that I’ve observed.
‘Volatile’ Reward Motivation
Volatile motivation is typically characterised by large peaks and troughs.
A prime example of where you would see this in the wild is with Audit Compliance activities. The motivation leading up to and immediately after an Audit is normally high, which then descends to a motivational lull until the next scheduled audit. As that audit nears, motivation rises again and the peak-trough cycle repeats.
‘Initial Flash’ Reward Motivation
Initial Flash motivation is the ‘sugar-hit’ of your motivation types. It is typically characterised by a large initial rise then a sharp fall – usually following a key event or milestone.
The motivation levels never typically recover back to the initial levels of excitement. You will often see around money. Bonuses, raises or even when striving for new project funding, there’s often a sharp boost followed by an equally sharp motivational drop.
‘Steady’ Reward Motivation
If Initial Flash motivation is your ‘sugar hit’ then Steady motivation is your ‘low GI’. It provides a slow, longer lasting burn.
Thankfully, there are many types of rewards that generate this type of motivation. You’ll find this spurring from ease of use, personal satisfaction, organisational culture and personal ego.
Reflect: What’s motivating your teams? And is it sustainable?
To Action: A Small Reward
This week’s action is a simple one.
Find a small way to reward your team(s).
Releases November 2nd - Brendon on The Everyday PM Podcast
Keep an eye out on 2nd November (Aussie time) for my discussion with Ann Campea on the The Everyday PM Podcast.
We covered the key traps that PMOs fall into, and how to break out of them. We then ventured into what underpins learning organisations and how to embed learning loops that aren’t boring and dry.
Clicking the ‘heart’ lets me know you liked this week’s content.
Sharing it lets me know you loved it.
Have a fabulous weekend. See you next week.