[acb-hsp] Experiments in Workplace Autunomy
paltschul at centurytel.net
Mon Jun 14 15:08:58 GMT 2010
You bring up a good point. Clearly, a given approach won't work
well with everybody. But do keep in mind that a well-functioning
system can have a powerful positive influence on all personality
----- Original Message -----
>From: "dchandler001" <dchandler001 at carolina.rr.com
>To: "Discussion list for ACB human service professionals"
<acb-hsp at acb.org
>Date sent: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 07:03:19 -0700
>Subject: Re: [acb-hsp] Experiments in Workplace Autunomy
>Hi. What about people who need more structure or are less
driven? Ttype II
>personalities. for example. Deb
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "peter altschul" <paltschul at centurytel.net
>To: "Acbhsp" <acb-hsp at acb.org
>Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 2010 5:34 AM
>Subject: [acb-hsp] Experiments in Workplace Autunomy
>> Ode bar March 2010 wwwddodemagazineddcom
>> Daniel H. Pink bar March 2010 issue
>> Experiments in workplace autonomy
>> Photo: Dusanzidarst Dreamstimeddcom
>> A little past noon on a rainy Friday in Charlottesville,
Virginia, only a
>> third of CEO Jeff Gunther's employees have shown up for work.
>> Gunther-entrepreneur, manager, capitalist-is neither worried nor
>> In fact, he's as calm and focused as a monk. Maybe that's
>> didn't roll into the office himself until about an hour ago. Or
>> that's because he knows his crew isn't shirking. They're
>> their own terms.
>> Gunther has launched an experiment in autonomy at Meddius, one
of a trio
>> of companies he runs. He turned the company, which creates
>> software and hardware to help hospitals integrate their
>> systems, into a ROWE-a results-only work environment.
>> ROWE's are the brainchild of Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson,
>> human resources executives at the American retailer Best Buy.
>> principles marry the common sense pragmatism of Ben Franklin to
>> cage-rattling radicalism of American community organizer Saul
>> a ROWE workplace, people don't have schedules. They show up
>> want. They don't have to be in the office at a certain timebor
>> for that matter. They just have to get their work done. How
they do it,
>> when they do it and where they do it is up to them.
>> This appealed to Gunther, who's in his early thirties.
>> about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices,"
>> me. "It's about creating conditions for people to do their best
>> That's why he'd always tried to give employees a long leash.
>> Meddius expanded, and as Gunther began exploring new office
>> started wondering whether talented, grown-up employees doing
>> work needed a leash of any length. So at the company's holiday
>> December 2008, he made an announcement: For the first 90 days of
>> year, the entire 22-person operation would try an experiment.
>> become a ROWE.
>> "In the beginning, people didn't take to it," Gunther says.
>> filled up around 9 a.m. and emptied out in the early evening,
>> before. A few staffers had come out of extremely controlling
>> and weren't accustomed to this kind of leeway. (At one
>> company, staff had to arrive each day before 8 a.m. If someone
>> even by a few minutes, the employee had to write an explanation
>> everyone else to read.) But after a few weeks, most people found
>> groove. Productivity rose. Stress declined. And although two
>> struggled with the freedom and left, by the end of the test
>> decided to go with ROWE permanently.
>> "Some people [outside of the company] thought I was crazy," he
>> wondered, `How can you know what your employees are doing if
>> here?`" But in his view, the team was accomplishing more under
>>>rangement. One reason: They were focused on the work itself
>> rather than
>> on whether someone would call them slackers for leaving at 3
>> a daughter's soccer game. And since the bulk of his staff
>> software developers, designers and others doing high-level
>> that was essential. "For them, it's all about the
>> need a lot of autonomy."
>> People still had specific goals they had to reachbfor example,
>> a project by a certain time or ringing up a particular number of
>> And if they needed help, Gunther was there to assist. But he
>> against tying those goals to compensation. "That creates a
>> says it's all about money and not enough about the work." Money,
>> believes, is only a "threshold motivator." People must be paid
well and be
>> able to take care of their families, he says. But once a
>> this baseline, dollars and cents don't much affect performance
>> motivation. Indeed, Gunther thinks that in a ROWE environment,
>>>every far less likely to jump to another job for a $10,000 or
>> even $20,000
>> increase in salary. The freedom they have to do great work is
>> valuable, and harder to match, than a pay raise-and employeebs
>> partners and families are among a ROWE's staunchest advocates.
>> "More companies will migrate to this as more business owners my
>> up. My dad's generation views human beings as human resources.
>> two-by-fours you need to build your house," he says. "For me,
>> partnership between me and the employees. They're not
>> partners." And partners, like all of us, need to direct their
>> We forget sometimes that "management" does not emanate from
>> not like a tree or a river. It's like a television or a
>> something that humans invented. As the strategy guru Gary Hamel
>> observed, management is a technology. And like Motivation 2.0,
>> technology that has grown creaky. While some companies have
>> gears a bit, and plenty more have paid lip service to the same,
>> core, management hasn't changed much in 100 years. Its central
>> remains control; its chief tools remain extrinsic motivators.
>> it largely out of sync with the non-routine, right-brained
>> which many of the world's economies now depend. But could its
>> weakness run deeper? Is management, as it's currently
considered, out of
>> sync with human nature itself?
>> The idea of management (that is, management of people rather
>> management of, say, supply chains) is built on certain
>> the basic natures of those being managed. It presumes that to
>> or move forward, we need a prod-that absent a reward or
>> remain happily and inertly in place. It also presumes that once
>> get moving, they need direction-that without a firm and reliable
>> they'd wander.
>> But is that really our fundamental nature? Or, to use yet
>> metaphor, is that our "default setting"? When we enter the
world, are we
>> wired to be passive and inert? Or are we wired to be active and
>> I'm convinced it's the latter-that our basic nature is to be
>> self-directed. And I say that not because I'm a dewy-eyed
>> because I've been around young children and because my wife and
>> three kids of our own. Have you ever seen a 6-month-old or a
>> who's not curious and self-directed? I havenbt. That's how we
are out of
>> the box. If, at age 14 or 43, we're passive and inert, that's
>> it's our nature. It's because something flipped our default
>> That something could well be management-not merely how bosses
treat us at
>> work, but also how the broader ethos has leeched into schools,
>> and many other aspects of our lives. Perhaps management isn't
>> to our supposedly natural state of passive inertia. Perhaps
>> one of the forces that's switching our default setting and
>> Now, that's not as insidious as it sounds. Submerging part of
>> in the name of economic survival can be a sensible move. My
>> it; so did yours. And there are times, even now, when we have
>> But today economic accomplishment, not to mention personal
>> more often swings on a different hinge. It depends not on
>> nature submerged but on allowing it to surface. It requires
>> temptation to control people-and instead doing everything we can
>> reawaken their deep-seated sense of autonomy. This innate
>> self-direction is at the heart of Motivation 3.0 and Type I
>> The fundamentally autonomous quality of human nature is central
>> self-determination theory (SDT). Edward Deci, a professor of
>> the University of Rochester, and Richard Ryan, a former student
who is now
>> Deci's colleague, cite autonomy as one of three basic human
>> others are the need for competence and the need for
relatedness.) And of
>> the three, it's the most important-the sun around which SDT's
>> orbit. In the 1980's, as they progressed in their work, Deci
>> away from categorizing behavior as either extrinsically
>> intrinsically motivated to categorizing it as either controlled
>> autonomous. "Autonomous motivation involves behaving with a
full sense of
>> volition and choice," they write in a 2008 article in Canadian
>> "whereas controlled motivation involves behaving with the
>> pressure and demand toward specific outcomes that comes from
>> perceived to be external to the self."
>> Autonomy, as they see it, is different from independence. It's
>> rugged, go-it-alone, rely-on-nobody individualism of the
>> It means acting with choice-which means we can be both
>> happily interdependent with others. And while the idea of
>> has national and political reverberations, autonomy appears to
be a human
>> concept rather than a Western one. Researchers have found a
>> autonomy and overall well-being not only in North America and
>> Europe, but in Russia, Turkey and South Korea. Even in
>> non-Western locales like Bangladesh, social scientists have
>> autonomy is something that people seek and that improves their
>> A sense of autonomy has a powerful effect on individual
>> attitude. According to a cluster of recent behavioral science
>> autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding,
>> grades, enhanced persistence at school and, in sporting
>> productivity, less burnout and greater psychological well-being.
>> effects carry over to the workplace. In 2004, Deci and Ryan,
>> Paul Baard of Fordham University, carried out a study of workers
>> American investment bank. The three researchers found greater
>> satisfaction among employees whose bosses offered "autonomous
>> These bosses saw issues from the employee's point of view, gave
>> feedback and information, provided ample choice over what to do
and how to
>> do it and encouraged employees to take on new projects. The
>> enhancement in job satisfaction, in turn, led to higher
performance on the
>> job. What's more, the benefits that autonomy confers on
>> to their organizations. For examples, researchers at Cornell
>> studied 320 small businesses, half of which granted workers
>> other half relied on top-down direction. The businesses that
>> autonomy grew at four times the rate of the control-oriented
firms and had
>> one-third the employee turnover.
>> Yet too many businesses remain woefully behind the science.
>> 21st-century notions of management presume that, in the end,
>> pawns rather than players. British economist Francis Green, to
>> one example, points to the lack of individual discretion at work
>> main explanation for declining productivity and job satisfaction
>> U.K. Management still revolves largely around supervision,
>> rewards and other forms of control. That's even true of the
>> gentler Motivations 2.1 approach that whispers sweetly about
>> "empowerment" and "flexibility."
>> Indeed, just consider the very notion of "empowerment." It
>> the organization has the power and benevolently ladles some of
it into the
>> waiting bowls of grateful employees. But that's not autonomy.
>> a slightly more civilized form of control. Or take management's
>> "flex time." Ressler and Thompson call it a "con game," and
>> Flexibility simply widens the fences and occasionally opens the
>> too, is little more than control in sheep's clothing. The words
>> reflect presumptions that run against both the texture of the
>> the nature of the human condition. In short, management isn't
>> solution; it's the problem.
>> Perhaps it's time to toss the very word "management" onto the
>> ash heap alongside "icebox" and "horseless carriage." This era
>> call for better management. It calls for a renaissance of
>> This is an edited excerpt from Drive: The Surprising Truth
>> Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, published by Riverhead Books.
>> Daniel H. Pink.
>> B) Ode Magazine USA, Inc. and Ode Luxembourg 2009 (further
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