That was my one-word reaction to the list of speakers at the 2012 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Not only did they set us up for the election with James Carville and Karl Rove, but the conference offered an amazing line-up for the Game Changer sessions. The one I looked forward to most, however, was Dan Pink at the Closing General Session.

Pink's most recent title, Drive, has many leaders re-thinking how they manage and compensate their employees.

Using 40-years of scientific research on motivation, Pink explains how the traditional carrot-and-stick approach used by most businesses can actually do more harm than good in certain situations.

He delineates between extrinsic motivations (carrots and sticks) and intrinsic motivations (hey, this is fun, its doing some good and I'm getting a more-than-fair wage so I really don't need a bonus to spur me to action).

Google is a prime example of channeling employees intrinsic motivations. The internet giant offers 20 percent time, meaning it encourages its engineers to take one day a week and work on a side project of their choosing.

Sometimes they tackle a problem with an existing product, but most times they develop something new. (Ever use Google News? Thats a product of 20 percent time.)

Dan explained how the theory could be applied to business, education and even to an exercise regimen. So, why not apply it to other areas?

In the meeting and event planning industry, we are not trying to develop the next product that will take the tech world by storm. But we have our own mission statements and goals and our own problems. Our goal is make every event a success.

What would happen if we gave employees some time - guilt-free - to tackle those nagging issues that hinder us or to craft new ideas? What about you? Does the thought of being able to dedicate a chunk of uninterrupted time to a project get your creative juices flowing?

Theres always going to be a place for bonuses, incentives and commissions, but what would happen if we allowed people a little more personal freedom to get things done in their own way?

Pink thinks the results will be amazing.


Experience Grand RapidsMary Manier, CTP/CTIS, is Director of Sales for Experience Grand Rapids.