Carrot and Stick vs Tomatoes via Social Mediation

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Conventional management literature is replete with recommendations of following a “carrot and stick” approach to motivation.

Essentially this simplistic school of thought believes that a pat on the back for doing something right and a kick for getting it wrong will do the trick and make your world a better place.

Well, this time tested management approach works in most cases. However, some situations and some people require a different approach to change management and motivation.

What if the subject concerned will not be motivated by the carrots (either because the carrots aren’t juicy enough or because the person owns a carrot farm and is not allured by your carrots) ?

What if the stick doesn’t work (the person could be armoured) ??

Well, if the carrot is not appetizing and the stick not strong enough, try tomatoes instead !

Now, as if the muddled vegetable farm was not enough, we have some more veggies coming our way…lets demystify this with the help of this illustration.

John Tromato driving change in Farmbrook Inc

The Situation

John was trying to drive a change in his organization, Farmbrook Inc and wanted people to comply. Like most changes, this required people to barter some individual privileges in the short run with the promise of long term gains. Of course, the organizational gains would eventually make the world a better place as benefits would trickle down to one and all.

The Conventional Stuff – Carrot and Stick 

An elaborate presentation was prepared for the management team explaining the rationale for change and the implications – carrots for success and sticks for abetting failure.

An offsite session was organized to inflict death by power point, hopefully killing traditional mindsets and resistance to change! The entire session was recorded for telecast to the rest of the organization and culminated with all participants of the team taking an oath to adopt the change.

John tried to push adoption by showcasing the benefits aka carrots, torturing them with death by power point. The ultimate threat of the bell curve was also sounded out…after all, this is the 21st century – who likes to be seen in bell bottoms (pun intended).

The carrot and stick drill had its impact on most people since everyone loves carrots and no one wants to “stick” around at the bottom of the bell curve. After all, no on loves “bell bottoms” in the 21st  century!

The Rebels

Sure enough, there was Karen Steel, who was different. Karen had no motivation to change because of the carrot and stick.

The sticks were too weak for Ms Steel, who was armored, being a relative of a powerful Director and investor in Farmbrook Inc. The lure of the carrots was also irrelevant to Karen, whose family had significant wealth including several carrot farms!

This troubled John no end as Karen Steel could not be convinced to change and his initiatives couldn’t take off.  All his consultants came two by two but all attempts to change the configuration of the carrot and stick failed miserably and were only counter productive.

Hatching the Plan

Finally, David, the little one who had slain Goliath and was indebted to John for pushing him in front of the giant came up with a plan.

John called over Karen Steel for a meeting and asked David to swap the power points with something far more interesting, this time.

Its a Social World 

The meeting started, not with a death by power point presentation, but with David’s YouTube channel featuring Karen Steel solemnly taking an oath as senior members to adopt the change. This was quickly followed with a background infographic of their pinteresting compliance scorecard inviting everyone to “like” !

The ducks kept quacking throughout reminding the audience of the score that just wasn’t ! 

David had done his job and it was left to the ubiquitous social world @ Farmbrook Inc. where little birds tweeted about the #humbling of Karen Steel. Shortly, the official grapevine channel had Steel and Karen trending and everyone was somehow getting to Stumble Upon their six seconds of fame! 

Enter the Tomatoes

John did not say a word – he only smiled knowingly. Everyone in the audience looked around restlessly, alternating between liking live feeds before being finally “Linked-In” laughter (this time in the physical world).

Karen Steel was embarrassed and turned red….as red as tomatoes.

What could not be done by carrot and stick and continued to live after death by power point was mashed by the tomato.

What really happened

The modern David symbolized ingenuity and creativity combined with the stealth and “virality” of social media. 

Leading by influence rather than power became the mantra. Social mediation became the new buzz word. SMAC (social, mobility, analytics and cloud) enabled power was leveraged in a world where traditional hierarchies and motivation techniques just do not work!

And Finally…

Over lunch, as John surveyed the lavish spread starting with his favorite tomato soup, he tweeted….

When carrot and stick doesn’t work, try tomatoes instead ! 

Hint: If red tomatoes also do not work, kindly look for the green grape vine. More on that later!

In the meantime, do let us know your thoughts on the tomatoes and try it out for yourself.

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