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Freedom in the Workplace Bill Abernathy Abernathy & Associates.

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Presentation on theme: "Freedom in the Workplace Bill Abernathy Abernathy & Associates."— Presentation transcript:

1 Freedom in the Workplace Bill Abernathy Abernathy & Associates

2 Individual Freedom and OBM What is OBM’s mission? –Scientific study of human behavior in organizational settings? –Improve performance management? –Improve employee performance? –Improve organizational profitability? To increase personal freedom in the workplace?

3 Key Presentation Concepts Freedom Negative Reinforcement Hierarchy of Needs Natural Selection Open Systems Self-Actualization Contingency-Shaped Behavior

4 What is freedom? “A perfect balance between the right of an individual to act without undue interference and the need of the community to restrain freedom of action has often been projected in theory but has never been achieved. The restraints imposed throughout most of history have been oppressive.” (Encarta)

5 John Locke "The end of the law is not to abolish or restrain but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be where there is no law."

6 George Washington "Government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. "

7 Thomas Jefferson "The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."

8 Lord Acton "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

9 "Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law." C. S. Lewis

10 John F. Kennedy "We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

11 free·dom noun ability to act freely: a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any, or to any undue, restraints and restrictions - live in freedom release from captivity or slavery: release or rescue from being physically bound, or from being confined, enslaved, captured, or imprisoned - hostages enjoying their first taste of freedom for months right to act or speak freely: the right to speak or act without restriction, interference, or fear - were given the freedom to take photographs and interview workers absence of something unpleasant: the state of being unaffected by, or not subject to, something unpleasant or unwanted - Freedom from want or fear is one of society's four principal freedoms.


13 “Historically, people have been controlled primarily through negative reinforcement that is, they have been punished when they have not done what is reinforcing to those who could punish them. Positive reinforcement has been less often used, partly because its effect is slightly deferred, but it can be as effective as negative reinforcement and has many fewer unwanted byproducts. A Brief Survey of Operant Behavior B.F. Skinner

14 B. F. SKINNER FOUNDATION “Personal freedom also seems threatened. It is only the feeling of freedom, however, which is affected. Those who respond because their behavior has had positively reinforcing consequences usually feel free. They seem to be doing what they want to do. Those who respond because the reinforcement has been negative and who are therefore avoiding or escaping from punishment are doing what they have to do and do not feel free. These distinctions do not involve the fact of freedom.” A Brief Survey of Operant Behavior B.F. Skinner

15 Two Approaches to Management: Positive vs. Negative Reinforcement + Reinforcement- Reinforcement food shock

16 Maslow’s Hierarchy

17 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 1. Physiological (hunger, thirst, shelter, sex, etc.) 2. Safety (security, protection from physical and emotional harm) 3. Social (affection, belonging, acceptance, friendship) 4. Esteem (The internal ones are self-respect, autonomy, and achievement and the external ones are status, recognition, and attention.) 5. Self actualization (realizing personal potential)

18 An Effective Behavior System Need Physiological Safety Social Self-Esteem Self-Actualization System component Pay Job security Mutual contingencies Minimum aversive control, feedback, recognition Self-managed, unrestrained opportunity

19 PROFITS Customers Owners Employees All participants must share fairly in the organization’s success. 1. PAY

20 Profit Sharing Owners must receive a good return on their risk and investment. Employee pay should be unlimited through indexing pay to organizational profit. Customers must share in performance improvement through lower prices, better service, and product innovation. 1. PAY

21 “Commodity” pay is converted to performance pay. Commodity pay is determined by education and experience. Performance pay is determined by organizational and personal performance. 1. PAY

22 Effects of Profit-indexed Pay PROFIT EMPLOYEE PAY 1. PAY

23 Vertical career paths are replaced with lateral career paths. The practice of rewarding high performers with promotions is eliminated. Lateral-career paths achieved through open book management, job enrichment and job enlargement. 1. PAY

24 Effects of Fixed Cost Wages and Salaries Employees do not share in success. Employees risk losing jobs during downturns. 2. JOB SECURITY

25 Transition from reliance on aversive control to positive reinforcement. Aversive control –reduces job security –requires ambiguity and uncertainty –creates conflict between management and labor Positive Reinforcement –increases job security –requires clarity and certainty –fosters cooperation between management and labor 2. SECURITY

26 Balance individual and group contingencies. Profit sharing is a “meta” group contingency. Small team performance measures reinforce cooperation. Personal performance measures ensure equity and provide for esteem and self-actualization needs. 3. SOCIAL

27 Balance individual and group contingencies. Eliminating promotions as rewards reduces competition. Transition of managers from aversive supervision to positive facilitation improves cooperation. 3. SOCIAL

28 Without a score, there is no game. A sense of personal achievement requires an objective and feedback on progress. Personal achievements that benefit the group result in recognition and status from the group. 4. ESTEEM

29 Abraham Maslow "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be." 5. Self-actualization

30 Nelson Mandela Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 5. Self-actualization

31 B.F. Skinner Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis 5. Self-actualization (3) Culture-bound vs. “natural behavior”. Rules evolve with the culture and differ among cultures; behavior shaped by nonsocial contingencies is as universal as the contingencies. (6) Intellect vs. Emotion. Rule-governed behavior may be cold and Stoical; contingency-shaped behavior is likely to be hot and Epicurean.

32 B.F. Skinner Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis 5. SELF-ACTUALIZATION (8) Anxiety vs. joy. The ethical, legal and other sanctions which enforce rules are usually aversive and the emotional responses associated with rule-governed behavior (“anxiety”} are then evoked by preaversive stimuli. The strong positive reinforcers which shape behavior directly are more likely to be associated with “joy.”

33 B.F. Skinner Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis 5. SELF-ACTUALIZATION (9) Monotony vs. variety. Rule-governed behavior is usually designed to satisfy contingencies, not to duplicate other features of the behavior shaped by them. Contingency-shaped behavior is therefore likely to have a greater variety or richness.

34 B.F. Skinner Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis 5. SELF-ACTUALIZATION (12) Formula vs. art. As Francis Bacon said, a painter or musician excels “by a kind of felicity and not be rule,” where felicity seems to refer to the happy consequences which guide the artist in lieu of rules in the production of art. (16)... Contingencies contain reasons which rules can never specify.

35 Advantages of a “self-actualizing” employee group Execute new strategies rapidly Continuous personal improvement Expanded initiative and innovation Require little or no direct supervision Long-term commitment to the organization Competition superceded with cooperation

36 Work InputTime Input Quality Proactive Input Over Staffing Off-task Assignments Work Schedule Work Distribution Attendanc e OPPORTUNITY CompetenceResourcesProcesses Selection Training Supplies Tools Under Staffing Job Methods Work Flow CAPABILITY PromptsFeedbackReinforce Instructions Job Aids Immediate Frequent Personal Actionable Positive Immediate Certain Aligned CONTEXT TARGET MEASURE Conditions for self-actualization

37 Common Concepts? Natural Selection Free Enterprise Free Operant Open System Self-Actualization

38 Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species 1859 In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.

39 Adam Smith, 1776, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" –Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

40 B.F. Skinner, A Brief Survey of Operant Behavior The innate behavior studied by ethologists is shaped and maintained by its contribution to the survival of the individual and species. Operant behavior is shaped and maintained by its consequences for the individual. Both processes have controversial features. Neither one seems to have any place for a prior plan or purposes. In both, selection replaces creation.

41 Von Bertalanffy –OPEN SYSTEM A system with input, an entity that changes its behavior in response to conditions outside its boundaries. Systems are rarely ever either open or closed but open to some and closed to other influences. Adaptation, learning and all manifestations of intelligence require some openness to information.

42 Employees in conventional organizations work in closed systems. Closed System Executive Directives Management Hierarchy Departmental “Silos” Direct Supervision Wages and Salaries Aversive Control Open System Open Book Management Flat Organization Shared Contingencies Self-Managed Profit Sharing Positive Reinforcement

43 Advantages of an Open System Responsive to external events Nimble, ability to change rapidly Continuous improvement Customer focus Profit focus Resilient and sustainable

44 Research Agenda Techniques for: –employee buy-in to measurement and stakeholder pay –employee shift to variable schedules where results are not completely predictable or controllable –reinforcement shift from short-term to long-term –ensuring consistent and sustained effective management practices

45 Research Agenda Techniques for: –creating contingencies that connect innovation and initiative to reinforcers –developing lateral career paths –increasing management span of control –ensuring continuous alignment between employee measures and goals and the organization’s measures and goals –statistically evaluating system constraints


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