Last time we talked about how the concept of “good health” is a surprisingly poor motivator for exercise. We talked about the need for short-, medium-, and long-term goals to support a system of motivation. Promoting exercise is also supported from another paradigm, that of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is perhaps best understood as a business concept. The traditional business incentives are seen as the carrot and the stick: “If you do perform this task well, we will give you a raise. If you do it poorly, you’re fired.” In the industrial age of the past, it was an adequate model. People were given simple tasks to perform and this simple carrot/stick reward system worked pretty well.
But research shows that this model works well only for simple tasks. For complex or creative tasks, these extrinsic motivations fail. In our new economy, the best ideas come from incentivizing people with rewards that are more intrinsic in nature. For instance, Google gives its engineers 20% of their time to work on anything they want without restriction, guidance, or supervision. It is said that policy has resulted in 50% of their new products.