The Puzzle of Motivation (TED Talks)

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  1. What is the “candle problem”? Were you puzzled by the results?
  2. What kind of mismatch between science and business does the presenter talk about?
  3. Do you usually find a “carrot-and-stick” policy efficient?
  4. What are “the business blocks of the new operating system”?
  5. Would the ROWE (results only work environment) system work for you?
  6. What kinds of incentives work for you?
  7. Can you think of any example which proves or disproves the theory that  the presenter is talking about?



at the outset = at the beginning of something

indiscretion = the act of saying or doing something without thinking about the effect it may have, especially when this embarrasses or offends somebody

in a moment of youthful indiscretion

to put it mildly = to understate something; to say something politely

against my better judgement =although  it is perhaps the wrong thing to do

a thumbtack = a short pin with a large round flat head, used especially for fastening paper to a board or wall


to adhere (the candle to the wall) = to stick firmly to something

a receptacle = a container for putting something in

power of incentives

an incentive = something that encourages you to do something

to incentivize people

to sharpen thinking – to dull thinking

to accelerate creativity – to block creativity

aberration — a fact, an action or a way of behaving that is not usual, and that may be unacceptable (отклонение от нормы)

contingent on/upon = depending on something that may or may not happen

contingent motivators

All payments are contingent upon satisfactory completion dates.

extrinsic/intrinsic motivators

a mismatch between = a combination of things or people that do not go together well or are not suitable for each other

rule-based work

to marshall (evidence) = gather and organize

rubble of the economic collapse = broken bits and pieces of anything, as that which is demolished

to entice (people with) = to persuade somebody/something to go somewhere or to do something, usually by offering them something

to emanate (from nature) = to come from something or somewhere

compliance = the practice of obeying rules or requests made by people in authority

turnover (of people) = the rate at which employees leave a company and are replaced by other people

to deploy (incentives) =  to use something effectively

to go head to head = to compete with someone directly

I rest my case =  I have completed the presentation of my argument. (Said by a lawyer)