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Incentive programs are sometimes more art than science.

I think that is due to a variety of studies that contradict each other and gurus who do the same. That tension creates “gray” areas and they get filled with the “art” part of the design. The contradiction starts with the “incentives destroy intrinsic motivation” camp – which can happen if you focus on rewarding alreadyintrinsically motivated behaviors (why would you do that anyway?). Think Alfie Kohn. And then there is there is the camp that says – incentives work and they DO drive behaviors (lots of data at the Incentive Research Foundation that prove incentive have a big impact on results.)

I stand firmly on the shores of the latter camp and believe PROPERLY designed incentives are an important tool in management’s toolbox and should be used when needed. But, as I’ve said over and over and over again…

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