How are you motivated to solve “The Candle Problem” ?

  • Post category:Psychology
  • Reading time:5 mins read

A month back, one of my good friend shared a video from TED talks. I do not remember now, who sent the first mail for TED talks to me. All I remember today is that since that first introduction to TED, I am in love with those sessions. They are amazing. Sure at times, some sessions are focussed on only one aspect of the topic. But that is ok. After all, how many sides one can cover is such a less time. Probably the only way to cover everything is not to say anything!!! Well, enough marketing for TED now, lets get back to the topic of this entry. So, this TED talk is about the field of motivation and the different views of science and business. What surprised me was that about 4 months ago, I was giving almost the same “lecture” to one of my friend on this topic. Yes, yes, I did not know about the “candle problem” though.

Like most of the human population on this planet, I was also frustrated that day; do not remember now why, thanks GOD or my beautiful memory. Ok, lets not get distracted again; be focused. Luckily my friend called for lunch. We generally take a long walk to get the lunch, have it and come back. Hmm, there may be some variation in the process sometimes though. This time the topic was motivation during our walk cum lunch. I asked him, why people do not finish the simple task as they should. Why for every little thing there have to be a follow up. Why so much documents, tracing, even logs, issue logs and endless other tracking tool are required to complete simple things!! I mean have you not come across these scenarios?
  • You give a simple task to create a instruction set document on a particular process. Do you get the timelines, the procedure, the structure, the details automatically provided by the executer?
  • You credit card is lost and you raised a case with HelpDesk. Does all the details, updates, cancellation, loss comes automatically to you?
  • You apply for a loan, do you get all the details; documents, procedures, approvals; first time?
  • How many times you complain that why the photo size for a particular passport/visa application was not specified clearly by the processing agent.
  • Why the house agent does not provide all the details on the house, owner, colony etc?
  • Why when you raise your leave request, you have to keep on following up that whether it is approved or not?
  • Why ? Why? Why?
And many more Why(s)!! These are simple things. There are elaborate processes and workflows are created to enabled the processes. But, still the person who has the interest has to personally follow up with every person involved in the process. It is crazy!!!!! There could be only two reason for it in my opinion.

  1. That we have dumb people.
  2. People are not motivated for doing their tasks. 

I am not touching the 1st point here. Why people are not motivated enough to perform their own tasks as part of their job? The common reasons one will get from people are

  • Salary
  • Job profile
  • Status

Other view I got from my friend was that it is not about motivation, it is about putting control on people, processes, the need to have more monitoring, improved workflows and so on. All this is sometime referred as “carrot and stick model”. But, don’t we have enough of this already?
My view is that there is a need to develop something completely new. I do not believe that we can improve the situation by doing more of the same by which we have reached this state. I believe that something very basic needs to be changed to make people perform their tasks. People should love their tasks, only then the results will be lovely, beautiful. People should not be under the threat, under conditions, under pressure to complete their tasks. For sure, there needs to be sufficient facilities, finances ensured to provide a good enough life style. It guess not everyone will have the wealth of Bill Gates, but if people can understand the importance of life and love their work, their “wealth” may be lot more than combined “wealth” of the world.

Is it so easy to achieve this? Naaaaaa. There are many difficulties, which has no answer; atleast today.

  • The major one, how do we think differently? If it was possible, then we would have probably thought of it already. After all we are the most intelligent species.
  • Who will decide, which is the right alternative?
  • Let’s come down to basic question. How to decide, what is enough for a person?  

And others, which you are thinking right now. But, does it mean that we cannot even try? The biggest roadblock to try new thing is our fear. 

  • What if we failed?
  • What if the new path is even worse?
  • Another angle, what if people really start enjoying their work!!!

By all, this I do not mean that replace everything today with one new concept. I believe in the diversity of the existence. This is what makes the world beautiful. We, need to find different ways for different people, different environments and for different “Candle”.
Now, please ask yourself, “What type of Candle problem am I trying to solve?”.
PS: Check this another version of the “The Candle problem”.