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Re: [agile-usability] Re: One Of My Biggest Agile Problem.

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  • Jonathan House
    William, ... I believe that you are correct. I have not made a major study of the field of psychology beyond some limited areas of interest, so I would agree
    Message 1 of 46 , Sep 6, 2008
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      William,

      >
      > I think you're using the words "punishment" and "reward" in ways
      > different than common usage, and different than the technical terms in
      > psychology.
      I believe that you are correct. I have not made a major study of the
      field of psychology beyond some limited areas of interest, so I would
      agree that my definitions probably differ at least in spirit. That being
      said, I do not for one minute regret the conversation that has taken
      place as a result of my loose labeling or other's definitions.

      > You also seem to have some misunderstandings about what Kohn says and
      > doesn't say, and where you have it right, he has addressed your
      > responses and questions at length.
      >
      > In hopes of solving all of these problems and advancing the
      > discussion, I've had Amazon send you a copy of his book. Look for it
      > toward the end of the week.
      I honestly appreciate that, William. As I posted before, it's been a
      long time since I have read from his book, so I will suspend further
      discussion of Kohn on my part until I have had a chance to do a bit of
      reading. I sincerely doubt that my personal world view will
      significantly shift as a result, but the least I can do is get the facts
      straight before I assault them. :-)

      Cheers,

      Jonathan House
      Voodoo Usability Shaman, Agile Sadist

      >
      > William
      >
      > Jonathan House wrote:
      >> Hi Ron,
      >>
      >> Yes, I've had a cat. I'd say that they are the exception that proves
      >> the rule. It's amazing how well they can take your reward /
      >> punishment system and turn it against you...
      >>
      >> On a more serious note, echoing one of the things that was touched
      >> upon in the SL Agile discussion yesterday, there is a wide spectrum
      >> of rewards and punishment and an equally wide spectrum of applicable
      >> conditions for those rewards and punishments. People who don't bother
      >> to go beyond the surface automatically equate rewards with the giving
      >> of physical things or overtly positive verbal feedback, and
      >> punishment with the infliction of physical discomfort or overtly
      >> negative verbal feedback. That's only a part of the story.
      >>
      >> Take Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as an example
      >> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs). Here's
      >> a summary in reverse order (from primitive to advanced):
      >>
      >> Physiological needs (food, water, air, sleep, etc).
      >> Safety (safe from physical harm, secure employment, secure family
      >> bonds, etc).
      >> Love (friendships, positive family relationships, etc)
      >> Esteem (confidence, achievement, respect of others)
      >> Self-actualization (morality, creativity, problem solving, etc).
      >>
      >> The human experience completely encompasses this range of needs.
      >> Those that fail to have needs met at a lower level are rarely in any
      >> condition to fulfill needs at a higher level (yes, I know that there
      >> are detractors to this theory. I'm not one of them).
      >>
      >> Now take the concept of reward and punishment and apply it across
      >> this hierarchy of needs. Let's see what we come up with:
      >>
      >> Physiological - rewards and punishments at this level are obvious.
      >> The criticality of those same rewards and punishments are quite
      >> literally the difference between life and death. Obviously exertion
      >> of rewards and punishments at this level are extremely effective for
      >> inducing behavior in individuals, but have no place in any level of
      >> civilization due to the massive negative effects on the rest of the
      >> population. If only the dictators of the world would pay attention in
      >> their psychology classes.
      >>
      >> Safety - Even though this is still very far down the needs hierarchy,
      >> it's surprising how often reward / punishments at this level come up
      >> in our modern societies. Rewards include continued employment, access
      >> to family and property, security of the physical self from harm.
      >> Punishments include loss of jobs, denial of access to family and
      >> friends, loss of property, risk of bodily harm. The whole concept of
      >> an effective workforce revolves around the concept of the access to
      >> or denial of employment. Do well at your job and your reward is
      >> continued employment. Screw up, and you lose your job. Take a look at
      >> places where it is much harder to either become employed, or once
      >> employed, lose your job. What happens to the productivity of the
      >> workforce without this reward / punishment system? I need point no
      >> further than to government and public education to illustrate this
      >> point.
      >>
      >> Love - Forget to give your significant other a gift on Valentines
      >> day? Guess what's coming. Plan an elaborate surprise party for a
      >> close friend and what can you expect? Reward and punishment examples
      >> abound at this level.
      >>
      >> Esteem and Self Actualization - Now we're getting into interesting
      >> territory. Alfie Kohn states (in the interview that William linked
      >> to) "The kind of motivation elicited by extrinsic inducements isn't
      >> just less effective than intrinsic motivation; it threatens to erode
      >> that intrinsic motivation, that excitement about what one is doing.".
      >>
      >> I call "bulls**t" on this one. Intrinsic motivation is just as
      >> effectively controlled by rewards and punishments as extrinsic
      >> motivations. The only difference is the nature of those rewards and
      >> punishments. Here's an example. I, as an experienced martial artist
      >> (yes, I really am) can perform physical tasks that others want to
      >> learn. According to Kohn, my demonstration of these techniques does
      >> not constitute an extrinsic "reward" or motivation. I am simply
      >> performing a physical act that others are observing. But yet I know
      >> that if I execute this physical act in an inept way, I am going to
      >> demotivate those that are watching me from wanting to learn (failing
      >> to trigger their intrinsic motivations). But if I perform that exact
      >> same physical act to the best of my abilities, there's going to be a
      >> lot more intrinsic motivation popping up. No reward and punishment
      >> from the perspective of Kohn, but I have still quite effectively
      >> influenced behavior.
      >>
      >> Effective rewards and punishments at the esteem and self
      >> actualization level are never physical, and are rarely overt ("you
      >> did a great job, Jimmy!"). But they still exist, and we see and use
      >> them all of the time. Just because they don't take the form of what
      >> we traditionally consider rewards and punishments doesn't mean that
      >> they aren't. My alternative theory is that specific categories of
      >> rewards and punishments cease to be effective when the target of that
      >> attention transitions to a different level of need. The mistake we
      >> make is that we don't adjust our rewards and punishments to match
      >> their growing (or diminishing) level of needs actualization.
      >>
      >> Oh, and a final parting shot at Kohn. If extrinsic reward systems are
      >> so fallible, why is it that we continue to see those with greater
      >> skills being rewarded above others with lesser skills? Employees that
      >> perform better are rewarded not from a warm glow within, but higher
      >> pay. Professional athletes receive the pay and attention that they do
      >> because of superior physical skills. How many people capable of
      >> performing at at a high level say "no, you can keep all of that nasty
      >> extrinsic piles of cash. I'm intrinsically motivated to be a florist!".
      >>
      >> Cheers,
      >>
      >> Jonathan House
      >> Technology Operations Director, Amirsys Inc.
      >> Voodoo Usability Shaman, Agile Sadist
      >>
      >>
      >> Ron Jeffries wrote:
      >>> Hello, Jonathan. On Friday, September 5, 2008, at 4:36:54 PM, you
      >>> wrote:
      >>>
      >>>
      >>>> As an aside to all of this, we continued the rewards / punishments
      >>>> conversation into the Agile Roundtable discussion group here in Salt
      >>>> Lake City on Thursday and had some fascinating discussions. There were
      >>>> others here who were present, so I'll let them share their
      >>>> thoughts. My
      >>>> takeaway was that there was no convincing arguments that dispelled the
      >>>> reward / punishment mechanisms as a means of successfully altering
      >>>> behavior.
      >>>>
      >>>
      >>> Oh, yes, it is well-established. Punishment will alter behavior --
      >>> while the punisher is looking.
      >>>
      >>> Haven't you ever had a cat?
      >>>
      >>> Ron Jeffries
      >>> www.XProgramming.com
      >>> Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.
      >>> --Albert Einstein
      >>>
      >>>
      >>>
      >>
      >
      >
    • William Pietri
      ... That s a good point. The biggest complaint I hear about this list is that the volume makes it too hard to keep up. Might I suggest that any future
      Message 46 of 46 , Sep 6, 2008
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        aacockburn wrote:
        > I also have enjoyed this rampaging discussion immensely, even if
        > it has precious little to do with agile-usability. It has opened
        > some interesting doors for long-term inquiry in my mind. (Thanks
        > Jonathan for that).
        >
        > Maybe now we can let this group get on with its regularly scheduled
        > program :)
        >

        That's a good point. The biggest complaint I hear about this list is
        that the volume makes it too hard to keep up. Might I suggest that any
        future discussion on this topic go to a more appropriate list? E.g.,
        this one:

        http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/agilecoaches/

        Thanks,

        William
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