By John Hunter, author of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog (since 2004).
This post continues with some thoughts prompted by the Read Bed Experiment Lessons post.
Another aspect the Red Bead Experiment can’t replicate is the long term impact of working in a system that frustrates your desire to do great work. The importance of what happens to people in such a situation is under appreciated. I believe people want to do a good job (I believe in theory y not theory x – also known as carrot and stick management).
But I understand that people have to protect themselves from deep disappointment. And when they have worked in management systems that crush joy in work for years people protect themselves from disappointment.
When trying to reengage people’s innate desire to take pride in their work there is often a need to transform their expectations. Many have had to repress their desire to do great work and seek extrinsic motivation (through awards, money, etc.). They have to gain trust that they can seek to take pride in their work without the near certainty they will disappoint themselves due to institutional barriers that don’t allow them to do so. Barriers that don’t let them fix problems, that don’t let them learn practices that allow them to succeed with improvement efforts, etc..
This is often not an easy process. And it provides an easy out for those looking to show there is no hope to improve. Half-hearted attempts to change will fail to get over this barrier – people will not open to try and improve when they have years and decades of experience showing those that seek to take pride in their work open themselves up to heartbreak in going against the prevailing culture of the organization.
Related: Peter Scholtes on Managing People and Motivation – Managers Should Focus on Eliminating De-motivation – What Really Motivates Us? – Communicating Change – Dr. Deming on Leadership and Management of People