ROWE, Motivation and Education.

In his speech, Dan Pink challenges us to question the way in which our cooperate world is constructed. He urges us to see traditional modes of motivation in a new light and thus, question the practicality of what have become norms. Pink uses the term “functional fixedness” to describe how management structures make people think in narrow way because of the incentives that they will receive. Such incentives include promotions, high salaries and the like. In Pink’s point of view this is wrong. He argues that incentives do not widen one’s imagination, instead they can hinder one’s innovation.

Pink’s solution to this problem is the Results Only work Environment ( ROWE). He describes how ROWE enables a person to creatively work without the constraints of a fixed schedule, mandatory meetings, and  fixed work area. For him this is part of the 21C set of skills. This has been proven to work for many big companies including Best Buys.  I like to think that I would probably be able to work in a ROWE environment. The idea of being able to work when I want to, as long as I produce good results is appealing. This might work if I become a full time artist. However, if I have any other sort of occupation, ROWE might end up being the cause of my frustration.  This is because, naturally I am a leader. If I have a group task to accomplish I like to see the progression, that way I can encourage the development of the task. This would require regular meetings. Even if I do not have a leadership role, I think that I would desire to regularly interact with people in a set work space in order for me to be productive.

I also think that there should always be a separation between work life and home life, occupation and social life. I am afraid that if I could work in a ROWE environment, the line between the two would be blurred and my social or home life would suffer. I think that people who feel the same way may disregard Pink’s argument.

In regard to this Pink’s views, My professor Amy asked, “How should I (or any other professor at college) be motivating you in class? Or is that the wrong question? If it is the wrong question, what is the right question that I should be asking you?”

YES… this is the wrong question. It’s not my professors’ job to motivate me. This is because as a privileged person who knows that I constitute only 10% of the world population with access to higher education, I should be already motivated. No major offense to anyone, but only in the America are people having this type of conversation. Maybe I am going off point a little bit, but the point is that if we all took some time to look at the state of the world (outside of the USA) we would not be asking this question.

Besides, I like the structure of education (Liberal Arts Education) as it is already. Call me a nerd, but I actually like to read and do homework….most of the time. The fact is that this sort of education is way more liberal than it is in many countries, and I like it. If I do have a candle problem, I don’t know what it is. I am still thinking about it. When I find out about it I will blog about it.

With all of this said, I am not disregarding Pink. I think ROWE can work for a specific type of person under specific circumstances.  I just don’t think it is for everyone. I think it will take a few more decades to break tradition and re-motivate people to functional differently. When that happens there will be even more creative innovation.

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2 thoughts on “ROWE, Motivation and Education.

  1. I watched this, this summer! I must say I like your viewpoint. I also feel like there are situations and even places where ROWE would not work, as well. For example, when we use Hofstede cultural dimensions for international business to compare the united States or Japan with the Scandinavian countries, one will find that the United States, or Japan for that matter, being an uncertainty avoiding country, will often feel the need to have rules and be structured enough in a way as to avoid ambiguity. On the other hand, the Scandinavian countries having low uncertainty avoidance, tends to have a lot of confidence in it’s workers and hence there’s often no need for regular meetings and this is also assisted by the feminine business culture that they have. The “feminine” business culture allows them to put more significance on the process of getting to those results rather than output-like-machine system of working. Stepping away from generalization, I am sure not all American businesses function this way, since Hofstede’s research was not dynamic to begin with, but there is some truth to that, at least, that’s what I think.

  2. Thanks for you comment Leila! I get so excited when people read my blog!!! YAY!!

    Yah I totally agree with you! It can’t work everywhere, but it is still a noble idea.

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