Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: TED

La pericolosa curva di Gatsby

Curiosamente lo ho citato su questo blog appena due giorni fa. Oggi ne parlo di nuovo, perché Fabrizio, mio professore all’EUI e già dottorato in sociologia all’Università di Trento, ha fatto un intervento al TEDx di Pisa. E’ un ragionamento tipicamente sociologico, che vorrei mostrare ai miei amici e conoscenti che non capiscono cosa sia e a cosa serva questa disciplina.

Thanks, in five words

Studying in Italian you learn to prepare long and complicated speeches, which are indeed very musical and beautiful and full of rhetoric, but often fall short of brevity.

Since the moment I seriously started studying in English I began appreciating synthesis as a precious gift. No wonder synthesis is one of the key talents of contemporary world, and many successful ideas are built on it – that TED speeches and twitter, for instance. Of course, extreme synthesis has its own pitfalls, as it may lead to schizophrenia and superficiality. If used well, however, it makes better, more efficient, clearer speeches.After all, you do not need plenty of space to say something and we do, in fact, remember more clearly simple and short messages rather than long and complicated communications.

Take the Webby Awards, which honor the best of the Internet and introduced as its most satisfying tradition the brevity of its acceptance speeches, which are strictly limited to five words.

The puzzle of motivation

Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Dan Pink starts from the candle problem, an experiment done by Sam Glucksberg, who is now at Princeton University. This shows the power of incentives. Here’s what he did: he gathered his participants and he said, “I’m going to time you. How quickly you can solve this problem?” To one group he said, “I’m going to time you to establish norms, averages for how long it typically takes someone to solve this sort of problem.” To the second group he offered rewards. He said, “If you’re in the top 25 percent of the fastest times, you get five dollars. If you’re the fastest of everyone we’re testing here today, you get 20 dollars.” Now this is several years ago. Adjusted for inflation, it’s a decent sum of money for a few minutes of work. It’s a nice motivator.

Question: How much faster did this group solve the problem? Answer: It took them, on average, three and a half minutes longer. For Americans believing in the free market, bonuses, incentives this plainly makes no sense.

This talk is about the capacity to look for solutions on the periphery. Rewards, incentives, bonuses, instead, narrow our focus and restrict our possibilities.