Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Behavioural Psychology Proves that Greed-Driven PAP Ministers' Compensation System is Fundamentally Flawed!!!

The following short video is an animation of Dan Pink's talk on motivation and what drives people. It is based on the discoveries of Behavioural Economists and is key to this post so please take a moment to watch it. It is fantastic to say the least.

The key discovery by the Behavioural Economists is that:
  1. As long as a task involves only mechanical skill, monetary incentives correlate with performance i.e. higher the pay the better the performance.
  2. Once a task involves even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward leads to poorer performance !!!

This is precisely what has happened in the Singapore political scene today. Singapore's ministers have been given larger and larger financial rewards, and they have been giving Singaporeans poorer and poorer performance!!! As I stated in this post, Singapore's current generation of leaders have given us a seemingly non-ending litany of cockups - the kind of cockups that the previous generation of leaders would not have allowed to happen.

Dan Pink makes further observations in the video about what truly motivates people:

  1. The best use of money is to pay people enough, in order to take the issue off the table
  2. The factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction are
    • Autonomy
    • Mastery
    • Purpose
  3. If you want Engagement, self-direction is better
  4. When the profit motive gets unmoored from the purpose motive, bad things happen
    What are the implications of this research for the Singapore's political culture?

    1. Slash the ministers' pay to a level where they do not need to worry about putting food on the table, but where they are not adversely motivated by greed. I think that around $500,000 per annum is enough for the prime minister. This is in line with global leaders' pay packages and will give him more than enough. The rest of the ministers' pay packages should be slashed in line with this.

    2. Our political leaders must have a sense of higher purpose to serve the country and its people, and not be motivated by greed! This is not possible when their sole job is to appease the megalomaniacal desires of an octogenarian who is bent only on clinging on to power and who does not allow dissent. A genuine love for one's country is marked by the willingness to express dissent and challenge the status quo and to move things forward. It is not marked by rote compliance and mechanistic movements.

    How do we ensure our leaders have a true sense of purpose? unfortunately, Singaporeans NEED TO CHOOSE the right leaders who are motivated this way, and not by greed and power.

    The current compensation system as set up by Lee Kuan Yew BRINGS OUT THE WORST in our political leaders, and results in negative performance! Recent history has corroborated this and now the science has given us a clear explanation why!

    3. If you want engagement, you need to give people autonomy! The PAP government precisely does not want engagement with the people. It wants mindless automatons who mechanically submit to the power of the Lee regime and who do not question instructions. It incentivises this behaviour amongst the people by using the carrot and stick approach! Students learn this from a young age with a mechanical rote learning syllabus from the beginning of their studies all the way thru graduation... Scholars are picked because of their ability to perform well within a mechanical syllabus that does not require critical thinking - and their incentive system is precisely the carrot and stick approach where the profit motive is unmoored from the purpose motive.


    Singapore society is fundamentally flawed in the way our incentives and our motivations are set up. Throughout school and within the bureaucracy, the designs of Lee Kuan Yew have created mindless automatons shaped into compliance incentivised by the greed motive and not by genuine human motivations of autonomy, mastery and purpose.

    Change needs to happen throughout this country and this society all the way from the top to the bottom. Or else... more bad things are going to happen!!!


    massgrave for MIW said...

    It is timely to use 'behavioural psychology' to explain common sense recognition that those in the PAP are basically self serving...courtesy of LKY.

    And just using common sense one can tell the country is not in good hands, not with buggers at the helm who are shamelessly greedy, vindictive, have no integrity, no sense of accountability, no sense of shame, no sense of honour, no sense of fairplay. In other words, scums of the earth!

    To continue with the LKY system, I must agree with the writer "more bad things are going to happen."

    Alan Wong said...

    So that's the reason why we are often reminded as daft, slow moving, champion complainers, small minded, selfish, etc. To be cheaper, faster and better and then to be better, betterer and betterest.

    Obviously they are saying they must be the best so that they can ultimately justify the obscene manner they reward themselves.

    And it was despite all their failures and shortcomings : the frequent flooding; costly public housing; MRT overcrowding; Mas Selamat escape; wasteful YOG spending; excessive foreign imports; lack of social welfare; incompetent CEOs & Ministers; etc.

    Politicians are not called crooks for nothing. The old man included.

    Anonymous said...

    Just a simple conclusion.

    Cronyism and nepotism do not work according to scientific and logical reasonings. Rewards of various kinds; authority, wealth and fame(more likely ended up as infamy) are awarded according to relationships rather than performances.

    And there are always unfathomable excuses such as 'act of god', 'unexpected/too sudden', 'caught off guard', 'unintended mistake', 'pure accident' and maybe one day it will be 'beyond the limit of humanity' to explain away guilt, culpability, poor performances, lapses, negligence and pure complacency etc.

    The Chinese says: 'to fix(blame), one can always fabricate thousand and one excuses'(yi cha zi zui, he huan wu zi). Similarly, all kinds of excuses can be created to escape or be saved from responsibility, accountability and culpability.

    When a country reached such a level in it's administration, its' fate is sealed.