The End of Money?

Once upon a time we traded directly; the herbs I’ve grown for the eggs your hens laid. But that limited trade to very local systems, and meant most goods couldn’t be traded over long distances. So we developed a use of rare metals (most often gold and silver) as proxies for value. Their rarity ensured a measure of stability, but they were difficult to transport. Enter the banks, organisations whose 4000 year old origins are in supporting trade, farming and manufacturing. Currency eventually became a state matter, issued most often by national banks. With retail banks ubiquitous and providing banking services for individuals.

Given that we now have electronic transactions; online, via the internet, via bank cards of various forms and even into near field communication do we still need money? There are very few transactions I make in cash, and increasing numbers of retail outlets which only accept card payments.

Paul Kemp-Robertson proposes a future of branded currency, where banks are not necessary in a video explaining the future of money.

There are concerns about how bitcoins are used, they’re used in all transactions on the Silk Road, providing users some level of anonymity and avoiding any sort of regulatory oversight. Other concerns relate to just how they work – it seems to be easy to manipulate the market. Although bitcoins can be traded for national currencies it has not been considered a currency and therefore has not been under formal regulation.

That lack of oversight may change; the US regulators have shown increasing interest as the use of Bitcoins has grown. It’s an interesting move if the world’s largest economy recognises¬† a virtual currency this could mean the geeks will rule the banking system.

Image Bitcoin


Drive; The surprising truth about what motivates us

Daniel Pink

It’s not money.

Or rather above a fair wage paying more won’t get more creativity or better “right brained” work out of us, in fact our performance may go down.

This wasn’t entirely surprising, I’ve known for a long time that what motivates me to go to work and try harder is not the salary but the opportunities to learn, to make things better, and to solve problems. I’m sure other people have a similar pattern of motivation, and yet our whole management system is based on the idea of paying for performance.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 13.43.09Pink draws on a lot of behaviourial research and concludes that not only does increasing the reward have no effect on our motivation, it can decrease the performance. Rewards work when they’re connected to routine or mechanical work, but as soon as the work has an element of cognitive skill rewards destroy performance. There is, it seems, a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

So what does motivate people in the creative and cognitive realms?

  • Mastery; gaining skill or knowledge, “the desire to get better and better at something that matters”
  • Autonomy; being in control how we work, “the freedom to great work is valuable”
  • Purpose; working towards a larger goal or wider good, “those who work in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more

Pink finishes the book by offering 9 strategies for individuals to get into “Drive” motivation from asking yourself “Was I better today than yesterday?” to taking a year long sabbatical to recharge and learn. He also offers 9 strategies to take your team or organisation into “Drive”, including using “now that” rather than “if then” rewards so that your team gets a reward as a celebration for achieving something, rather than holding out a reward on condition of something being achieved.

It’s a good read, full of ideas and humour, thought-provoking, practical and well written. He’s also a good speaker, and talked about some of the ideas behind “Drive” at TED, here’s the clip.