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Reader comment on Barry Schwartz's passage ...

Incentives Are Not Enough

On Feb 7, 2012 Patrick wrote:

I agree that incentives are not enough, but I also think the author's statements regarding incentives are too sweeping and simplistic.  Incentives can also reinforce virtues and positive behaviors amongst groups of people working for a common purpose. 

Organizations theoretically use incentive and reward programs to help them get where they are going, i.e. to succeed.  These programs need to be congruent with the organization's vision, mission, values and current priorities.  Alignment is critical.  When it exists it very much aids organizational clarity and communication, which serves both the organization and its employees.  When an employee disagrees with his organization's vision, mission and/or values and cannot make his objections known or effect constructive change, he needs to get out and go somewhere where great mutuality of purpose exists.  If, because of financial necessity, he does not get out, he is a new type of slave for however long his unhappy relationship with that organization exists.

As a society, we have, broadly speaking, confused money with meaning.  Indeed, for too many of us money is the arbiter of meaning, when in fact money should be the servant of what is meaningful.  We have arrived at this situation courtesy of capitalism's triumph over democracy.  The American notion of checks and balances has failed to maintain the balance between a free marketplace and democratic ideals.   

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