Response to Ed Freeman


I found Ed Freeman’s talk to be extremely captivating. What I found most interesting, was when he discussed incentivizing people. At first glance, you would think that incentives would be the best way to motivate people, but according to Freeman, this only works in specific circumstances. He said that incentives typically make performances worse. This is something that we have talked about in a few of my classes at Bucknell where grades were not quantified until the end of the semester. The whole semester was based on feedback instead of letter grades. I think everyone has had at least one exam in their lifetime where they have studied for testing, only to forget everything after. The focus drifts from learning to performing in a way that will result in the highest grade. The more I thought about this, I realized how true it was in our world. We focus on the end result instead of the process. But Freeman gave an alternative to this way of thinking. He said, “We want purpose, or something to work for that is bigger than ourselves.” I found this quite inspiring, and think that this is an idea that needs to be valued more in business.

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