Jim March, Chip Heath

Jim March says there are two very different kinds of logic for making decisions. One is the logic of consequences. We’re great in business at changing behavior by changing consequences. If we want customers to buy more, we lower prices. If we want salespeople to sell more, we increase their bonuses. But the second kind of logic is the logic of identity. Many of the … [ Read more ]

Joseph Addison

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.

Joel Spolsky

The problem with most incentive systems is not that they are too complicated — it’s that they don’t explicitly forbid the kind of shenanigans that will inevitably make them unsuccessful.

Paul Graham

Some people seem to have unlimited self-generated morale. These almost always succeed. At the other extreme, there are people who seem to have no ability to do this; they need a boss to motivate them. In the middle there is a large band of people who have some, but not unlimited, ability to motivate themselves. These can succeed through careful morale management (and some luck). … [ Read more ]

Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller

Research by a number of leading thinkers in the social sciences, such as Danah Zohar, has shown that when managers and employees are asked what motivates them the most in their work they are equally split among fve forms of impact—impact on society (for instance, building the community and stewarding resources), impact on the customer (for example, providing superior service), impact on the company and … [ Read more ]

Gilman Louie

The most surprising thing was that if terrorists rolled a hand grenade down the middle of a room, all our CIA employees would jump out of their seats and throw their bodies on it to protect everyone else. They would all give up their lives for one another and their country. However, if someone ran into the room and said, ‘I need someone to make … [ Read more ]

Richard P. Rumelt

Incentives are good in principle, but did Bear Stearns get competent risk management in return for the $4.4 billion bonus pool it distributed in 2006? Does any organization have to give its CEO a $40 million bonus to secure his services? If you pay people enough money to make any future payment beside the point, don’t be surprised when they take vast long-term risks for … [ Read more ]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.

George C. Marshall

Morale is the state of mind. It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and zeal and loyalty…It is staying power, the spirit which endures to the end – the will to win. With it all things are possible, without it everything else…is for naught.

Richard Branson

If you can find people who are good at motivating others and getting the best out of people, they are the ones you want. There are plenty of so-called experts, but not as many great motivators of people.

Bruce M. Hubby

…you don’t need to know a lot about people’s weaknesses. But you need to know about their strengths. Trying to correct someone’s weaknesses can be a demotivator. People gain confidence when you build on their strengths.

George Akerlof, Rachel Kranton

People respond almost too well to monetary incentives. That is, ‘firms get what they pay for’, but since these schemes cannot be targeted well, what firms get is often not what they want.

If an organization is going to function well, it should not rely solely on monetary compensation schemes. The ability of organizations to place workers into jobs with which they identify and the … [ Read more ]

Larry Winget

Motivational speeches are about making people feel good about themselves and enthusiastic about where they can go. But in my experience, it doesn’t work to paint a rosy picture and say “Doesn’t it look great over there?” and expect everyone to drop what they’re doing and go in that direction. What I do is, instead of trying to make people feel good about where they … [ Read more ]

Marc Hodak

Most boards believe that rewarding managers through stock options is an effective incentive leading to long term shareholder value. Equity ownership, by definition, aligns managers and shareholders. But effective incentive implies a motivation to do something, as opposed to a simple desire to see the share price go up. Most senior executives, right up to the CEO, will tell you that movement in the stock … [ Read more ]

Thomas V. Bonoma

Diagnosing motivation accurately is one of the easiest management tasks to do poorly and one of the most difficult to do well. Most managers have lots of experience at diagnosing another’s wants, but though the admission comes hard, most are just not very accurate when trying to figure out what another person wants and will do.

Thomas V. Bonoma

Vendors often try to change what the buyer wants or which class of benefits he or she responds to most strongly. My view of motivation suggests that such an approach is almost always unsuccessful. Selling strategy needs to work with the buyer’s motivations, not around them.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Many a business has fallen in love with the idea that the best way to get people to do things well is to have them compete with one another.That mindset derives from a sloppy sports analogy: People run faster if they run against someone else. That may be true for track, but when it comes to learning, people learn best when they’re operating in a … [ Read more ]

Steve Salerno

What I have a problem with are the amounts of money that corporate America is spending on motivational training. I’ve attended presentations by…leading figures in “training and motivation” who present this very expensive, rah-rah cheerleading nonsense. These people are getting paid $1,000 to $5,000 a minute, but they aren’t accomplishing anything more than a sales manager can accomplish simply by taking his staff out to … [ Read more ]

Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal

Willpower goes a decisive step further than motivation. It implies a commitment that comes only from a deep, personal attachment to a certain intention. Willpower springs from a conscious choice to make a concrete thing happen. This commitment to a certain end – not to doing something but to achieving something – represents the engagement of the human will.

Lou Holtz

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.