Go on then. Motivate me

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So, here I am.

I turn up for work, regularly on time, frequently early. Occasionally late.


I sometimes leave the office early, but, if I do, I will always check emails later, when I get home.

Well, mostly. (We’re being honest here. And we are talking about email. As motivations go, it’s not up there.)

I do a good job, I think. No-one’s ever told me otherwise, Though, frankly, I don’t think anyone could write my job description any more.

I include myself in that, though a hashtag might cover it: #whateverItTakes

So, how could you motivate me to do a better job?

You could give me more money. Money’s always good. Isn’t it?

Well, yes, money’s always nice. And, frankly, if you stop paying me I will stop turning up at the office.

But money’s just the bottom bar. As long as I have enough, offering me more won’t make me more creative. It won’t make me more valuable.

Incentivising people with carrots fails because, if you do, they chase the carrot.

If you need an illustration of that, you just have to look at the financial sector. People were ‘incentivised’ to sell more PPI insurance. To make more trades on the markets. To make credit default swaps tradable commodities. To make inter-bank lending rates more favourable.

Guess what? That’s exactly what they did.

That went well.

You can pay people more to work harder, or faster, but not smarter.

I could weave more Paisley pattern cloth in an hour if I thought I would get more money for it. But I couldn’t create more designs. It doesn’t work like that. Creativity takes time. And costs money.

You can’t incentivise intelligence, creativity, collaboration. You can’t say:

“I’ll give you a bonus if you’re 10% more creative.”

We cling to 20th century measures of productivity, and ignore the fact that our economy, our culture, has changed beyond all recognition in the last 20 years.

Doing more is no longer enough. Doing better is imperative. And we can’t get better by simply doing more of the same old stuff.

So we have to do different*.

And that’s what we’re here to do.

Here’s to different. Cheers!

Our ChOur Christmas retrospective boardristmas retrospetive board
Our Christmas retrospective board

*And by different, I mean:

  • Surround me with collaborative people, swarming with ideas
  • Give me the tools to do the job
  • Place me in a creative environment, where we have freedom to adapt it, talk and collaborate
  • Give me objectives, not targets
  • Let us get on with it, try, test, learn and improve (or kill – your idea or ‘project’ might, in fact, be rubbish, and nobody wants it. Deal with it. Hey, so are many of ours. Come up with a better one.)

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been a content designer, editor, UX designer and giant haystacks developer on the web for (gulp) over 25 years.

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