Sunday’s Dilbert & Deming’s Demotivation Curve
In the midst of Super Bowl party prep, you might have seen Sunday’s Dilbert.
In it, the pointy-haired boss reminisces about when Alice was “full of hope and optimism” and then “devolved into an angry, hateful creature.”
The unaware manager says “no one know what caused it” but it only took “about a week”:
The boss apparently views Alice as “dead wood.” But, this strip reminds me of what I wrote about back in 2007 and a great quote from Peter Scholtes:
If you’re firing dead wood, didn’t you hire live trees to start with?
And it reminds of of Dr. Deming talking about how an employee’s motivation could only go down over time (as I blogged about here) and as illustrated on page 121 of his book The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education. The “forces of destruction” can only crush intrinsic motivation… as Dilbert’s boss crushed out of Alice (and everybody else there).
The accompanying diagram (below) shows some of the forces of destruction that come from the present style of reward, and their effects. what they do is to squeeze out from an individual, over his lifetime, his innate intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity. They build into him fear, self-defense, extrinsic motivation. We have been destroying our people, from toddlers on through the university, and on the job. We must preserve the power of intrinsic motivation, dignity, cooperation, curiosity, joy in learning, that people are born with.
How do we stop demotivating people instead of crushing them and then trying to re-motivate them?