Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets

Anne says: Finally – it’s official!! Something I’ve been saying since last century: “Training is for dogs and babies..”

This week’s article was published in the New York Times late last year, but only appeared in my newsfeeds recently. The study might confirm (for many people) what some will say is obvious. Others, however, will be taken aback that the traditional reward and motivation systems we’ve used for decades in organisations, doesn’t actually work!

“…the discovery that when we are rewarded for doing something, we tend to lose interest in whatever we had to do to get the reward.”

In my time as a university lecturer, this behaviour was very apparent (and well studied) – students pay attention to topics that will be assessed – either in an exam or assignment. Any additional material (no matter how interesting) will most likely be ignored as irrelevant to the subject.

“…rewards frequently kill both interest and excellence…”

Question: so why are we still rewarding people against performance – for doing something? Something they’re already (technically) being rewarded for doing (paid).

The article follows recent research and the findings are disturbing. In fact, most of our commonly applied recognition systems are having the opposite effect! But – here’s the key point:

“…By now it should be clear that the trouble doesn’t lie with the type of reward, the schedule on which it’s presented, or any other detail of how it’s done. The problem is the outdated theory of motivation underlying the whole idea of treating people like pets — that is, saying: Do this, and you’ll get that.”

Now – this is huge…!! Gamification theories in our workplace systems frequently rely on theories that require action (do this) and get points (rewards). This can also explain why these strategies experience a drop in activity after a period of time. We get bored and the motivation stimuli (money, movie tickets etc) wears off.

But this is a solution – and wait for it – it’s rather obvious:

“…Working with people to help them do a job better, learn more effectively, or acquire good values takes time, thought, effort and courage.”

So I encourage you to spend time exploring the experience of people you work with – with the intention to more deeply understand – before you design this year’s performance management and reward programs.


Apple busts Facebook for circumventing app store to distribute data-sucking app

Joel says: Another week, another story shining the light on the malpractices that occur behind the scenes at tech giant Facebook, this time causing Apple to step in and shut down their latest attempt at capturing user data for their ‘research’.

This week Facebook has been caught distributing an app they call the ‘Facebook Research App’ to users that opted into their research program.

It’s come under fire for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it runs on a users’ mobile device and reports data such as internet habits, browsing history, location data and private emails back to Facebook.

Secondly, because children as young as 13 have been paid to be a part of the program. TechCrunch has reported that Facebook has been paying people $20USD per month to be a part of their research program. Which personally is quite a small figure to hand over your privacy.

And, thirdly, because of the method they are using to distribute the app and obtain the data. Facebook has been using their own internal distribution mechanism (MDM, or Mobile Device Management) that is used by many enterprise-level companies to manage, push internal apps and control company data on their employees phones to bypass the Apple AppStore and Google Play store to get these applications on phones of the general public, all because they knew the app didn’t meet the privacy standards of those marketplaces and that they wouldn’t pass the Apple review process.

While it’s still up in the air as to whether Facebook has done anything illegal as the users involved in the data collection did agree to the terms and were paid for the information, it’s clearly unethical and so Apple has stepped in and closed off the MDM service they use. Apple is currently restricting their ability to deploy and test their iOS apps internally, even the ones that are public and legal such as the core Facebook and Instagram apps as many don’t believe the extent of the ‘research’ was disclosed.

“I don’t think they make it very clear to users precisely what level of access they were granting when they gave permission,” mobile app security researcher Will Strafach said. “There is simply no way the users understood this.”


So this brings into question, while Facebook went about it in some sketchy ways, would you be open to handing over your privacy for a fee? Do you really think you have nothing to hide?


Our Meatless Future

Helen says: Growing meat in a Petrie dish is a reality and it is set to contribute to massive disruption of the global meat industry. CBInsights has released a fascinating report on protein product innovations. It looks at their impact on the $90 billion meat market, current trends, the investors and what challenges these start-ups face.

As the global population continues to swell, so too does demand for protein. Traditional farming methods alone will be unable to meet this demand; enter – clean meat and meat substitutes. This doesn’t exactly conjure up visions of epicurean delights for me, but this is no deterrent to investors who are committing tens of millions of dollars to the development of protein innovations. It’s happening now and In time, with market acceptance, the cost of producing alternative proteins will reduce and these products will present consumers with the choice of more environmentally friendly (using less water, requiring land, generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions) and arguably, more ethical and healthier proteins.

The report highlights the inevitability of imminent change to the meat trade and it also makes you think about just how dramatically our foods are likely to change. Anyone for a cup of gene sequenced 3D printed milk and an insect protein bar?


What Will Software Look Like Once Anyone Can Create It?

Jakkii says: Former YouTube VP, Shishir Mehrotra, ponders what software will look like once we reach where he believes we are headed – the democratisation of software, such that anyone can create it without knowing how to code.

First, a brief history from Mehrotra of what it was like in the early days of YouTube, long before it was the behemoth we know today, back when it was considered in the same league as MySpace, rather than a giant who might compete with broadcast television – or even film. The piece then dives into the Maker Generation – a terminology I’ve heard often before, so though Mehrotra implies he coined the term (“I call this the Maker Generation”), I’m not sure whether that’s actually the case. Either way, it’s this idea of the Maker Generation that Mehrotra believes will flow on into software – once the right democratisation tools are found. He gives an interesting example to illustrate the missing link in enabling this, but yet doesn’t suggest where this might come from in relation to software or how we will get there.

The idea of app or software building without needing to code isn’t new – things like Bubble allow users to create web applications without yourself needing to code. What seems to be different about Mehrotra’s suggestion is that rather than dragging and dropping from a library of pre-coded modules to build your web application (where someone still had to code those modules, it’s only the end user that doesn’t need to know how to code), software development will be democratised when we find the right ‘key’: our Arabic numerals to code’s Roman numerals.

In a world where organisations are regularly dealing with application overload because of SaaS and the ability for anyone with a corporate card or expense account (or their own money, if they’re really so inclined) to buy and use software for their team, what might this look like in a democratised software future where any team could build and run their own applications to suit their team, their needs and their ways of working? Will all our efforts to de-fragment the software environment be in vain? Or will it prove to be the true solution to the fact that there’s never been a software application in an organisation I’ve worked with that at least someone finds is not useful to their work (yes, even ‘everyone’s’ darling Slack faces this problem). Is the future of workplace software build-as-you-need-it applications? Such a future raises plenty of questions and concerns such as security and findability, but I suspect there are solutions for that, too, that don’t involve the ‘no one’s allowed to do this’ hysteria we’ve seen from many an organisation throughout the social media and enterprise social networking era. And what of design? And research, empathy, understanding? Will we be building apps for ourselves, with no concern for others? Is that the future itself – a world of endlessly personalised, individualised apps that maybe all do the same thing at various levels of competency?

So many questions, very few answers just yet. What do you think about Mehrotra’s vision? How useful could it be in your workplace?


This Week in Social Media


Everything else

Sydney Business Insights – In Conversation: Misbehaving with Dan Ariely Podcast

The Future, This Week is on holiday hiatus, so this week we bring you a podcast from SBI’s ‘In Conversation’ series, “Misbehaving with Dan Ariely”

In this podcast: Leading behavioural economist Professor Dan Ariely shares his insights into US politics, how we think about inequality, his desire to become a waiter – plus his advice on how to split the bill.

Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. He is the author of three New York times bestsellers. Through his research and his (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments, he questions the forces that influence human behaviour and the irrational ways in which we often all behave.

Show notes and links for this episode:

Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University

Ellen Garbardino, Professor of Marketing, University of Sydney

Dan Ariely’s website and links:

Dan Ariely website

Dan’s research

Pocket Ariely App

Dan’s Wall Street Journal column

Predictably Irrational

The Upside of Irrationality

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty

Other links mentioned:

Center for Advanced Hindsight

Dan Ariely’s TED talks


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