What motivates an individual and an organization is sometimes not aligned with the rewards system we put in place to encourage a higher level of performance. We see this dynamic in the cigarette sin tax situation where a higher sin tax does not lead to less smoking.
Thinking about the specific Lean Deployment or Six Sigma Implementation you’re involved in, what rewards system is in place to encourage a higher level of performance? Is that rewards system aligned to what is truly motivating the individual? The organization?
What Motivates Us?
In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, we learn that financial incentives rarely motivate people toward higher performance. Conversely, financial disincentives rarely dismotivate people from doing what they shouldn’t be doing.
Case in point: the cigarette sin tax. 1
The Cigarette Sin Tax
The cigarette sin tax infographic below shows how much money the federal government and the state government is collecting from the cigarette sin tax. As you can see, as the cigarette sin tax increases, there is a negligible decrease in smoking. In fact, as the cigarette sin tax increases, we don’t see much of an affect on smokingÂ cessation.
According to Daniel Pink, he argues that the common motivational tactic of “if you do X, you will get Y” doesn’t often work for knowledge workers. Or, in the case of smoking, “if you do X, you will have to pay Y” doesn’t work in reducing the behavior.
If money won’t help curb the behavior, then what will?
How to Quit Smoking
I don’t smoke, but I’ve helped people quit smoking while I was a service missionary in ghettos of Ohio. The idea of quitting a very addictive habit and the psychology involved in that is really interesting to me.
According to Daniel Pink, stopping a habit like smoking is better done with what he calls “implementation intentions”. Defined,Â Implementation Intentions are
if-then plans that connect anticipated critical situations with responses that will be effective in accomplishing oneâ€™s goals. Whereas â€¦ goals specify what one wants to do/achieve (i.e., â€œI intend to perform behavior X!â€â€¦), implementation intentions specify the behavior that one will perform in the service of goal achievement if the anticipated critical situation is actually encountered (i.e. â€œIf situation Y occurs, then I will initiate goal-directed behavior Z!â€).
In other words, to stop smoking, the person needs more than just the goal of “I will Quit Smoking”. There must be the implementation intention of “how” one actually does it. Having the goal of “I will Quit Smoking” isn’t enough, but must be supported by intermediate goals of feeling-reaction, such as:
I feel X, I will do Y
In other words,
- If I get a craving, I will chew gum
- If I get twitchy for a cigarette, I will distract myself
- When I want an afternoon smoke break, I will do ten push-ups
- When I feel stressed and need a cigarette, I will run up and down stairs
- If a friend attempts to peer pressure me into smoking a cigarette, I will walk away and read a book or a magazine and not hang out with that person for a while
The idea is simple, but takes the person from a moral-will Â or from a simple will power perspective of “I will Quit Smoking” to a position where it is more practical and the future behavior has already been decided.
Motivation and Lean Thinking
It is important to be aware and plan for the motivations of why people and organizations are undertaking a Lean Deployment or Six Sigma Implementation. And, are the rewards you provide for successful completion of an A3 or a Six Sigma project monetary? If so, you might want to reconsider your rewards system to be more aligned to what is truly motivating that person from succeeding or reaching a higher level of performance.
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