Millions of Dollars or One Ring?

Money solves a lot of problems and it’s a stable form of compensation. That makes it a great incentive.

Here, take this thing that you think is valuable and others think as valuable and thanks to the computer in your pocket you don’t actually need the thing but a code on a site that sends the digital version of the thing to someone else. Trust me, this works.

But money isn’t the only incentive. Eventually it’s not even the most important. However, not thinking about money as an incentive requires imagination. Nothing is official but here’s one reported consideration for the NBA.

This is a terrible idea.

Bill Simmons—who we like—understands why. In his version of the in-season competition, Simmons awards teams a better chance to win the NBA championship. In zero-sum competitions, people would give body parts to win. How much does the marginal million matter?

It’s not just sports. After a certain salary, company culture matters more than company checks.

Incentives are like a series of dials: culture, mission, pay, people, autonomy, and so on.

Bob Iger wrote that he and others stayed at Capital Cities because of loyalty. Plus it was a great place to work. Once in the Disney machinery things changed. Iger again, “If you stuck to your budget and behaved ethically, Tom and Dan (Cap Cities) gave you room to operate with independence…Disney was the opposite of all that.”

It’s great that money isn’t the only motivator. This allows for interesting solutions. If you need some ideas, try some Alchemy.

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