Video: The way we think about work is broken | Barry Schwartz

Photo of Adam Smith statue in Edinburgh
By Alex Burden, CA Today

27 December 2017

Our featured talk comes from the esteemed psychologist Barry Schwartz, who studies how economics and psychology impact upon one another and the effects on the world around us.

This video is a fantastic introduction for budding entrepreneurs, leaders and managers, where Barry explains how the industrial revolution and capitalism have worked together to effectively eliminate enjoyment from everyday life.

He posits that systems were created around the belief that humans are essentially lazy, and incentivising work through pay allows you to participate in enjoyment.

However, this also traps a majority of people on Earth in low-paid jobs, depriving them of 'non-material satisfactions' and not remunerating to the level needed to 'buy' life's enjoyments.

He frequently references the work of Adam Smith, who was the first to suggest that humans need pay motivation, but who also said that monotonous assembly lines make people 'become as stupid' as possible.

Barry says that Smith was telling us that the shape of an institution creates people who are fitted to the demands of that institution, and when a belief about human nature is created and believed to be true (such as unhelpful tropes that millennials are lazy, baby boomers are greedy), we will always then create a system of living which upholds that idea.

What kind of work environment do you want to help design?


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