By louis
Published: March 2, 2008

Many times I have written on the topic of removing de-motivators. I am not sure I have been clear on exactly what a de-motivator is. I define de-motivators as a thing that either works to destroy motivation or blocks it from coming out, by removing the enjoyment of a job well done.

This may sound a bit archaic, the thought that work can be enjoyable. Clearly, in our society, work is that which we do to earn enough so that we no longer have to do it. Often we work so that we can retire and no longer have to work. The thought of work as enjoyment for most is quite strange.

My great-grandfather and perhaps his generation, seems to have felt quite differently. He was a master-carpenter and a cabinet maker. He spent is life perfecting his craft, continually learning as he went. This is what he was, and he could never retire from what he was. Instead, he did what he loved, took great pride and joy from the work and did it until he was no longer able. Even then, he stayed around the work training and advising my grandfather and other younger people how to do it best.

With the industrial revolution joy in work was largely replaced by efficiency. There was far less time for training and far less places for older workers. Systems were devised to "retire" people thought no longer capable of producing at full-rate. Now, rather than a craftsman producing a product, start to finish, people labored on small parts of the product. Each part was then assembled by someone else, who had not produced them.

This method lowered the cost of training and the cost of employing master craftspeople. It also removed much of the pride and joy a workman previously enjoyed. Rather than creating a beautiful piece of furniture, a worker now produced drawer bottoms. Incentives and rewards were concocted to get people to do things that were not much fun. Soon the reality of a paycheck replaced the pride of workmanship.

I cannot argue the methods of mass production were not more efficient. When I see a handmade piece from the era, used by and handed down through four generations and still a thing of beauty, I wonder if there is not also a place for a slightly less efficient way. Value will always be established by the client and encompasses far more factors than price alone.

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