Unexpected Leader: Burning Man Festival

Employee Motivation Lessons from the Burning Man Festival

By Bridget Quigg, PayScale.com

How can you inspire human beings to do something great? Books have been written about it, great thinkers have thought about it, and an annual event in the Nevada desert seems to have done it – all without setting up a rewards structure or incentive pay plan. What can we learn about human motivation from Burning Man?

Is your competition handing out raises in 2011? Hiring new talent? PayScale surveyed them to find out and now we're giving you their answers. Download PayScale's Compensation Practices Survey for 2011 and get up-to-date on your market.

If you’re not familiar with the event, you’re not alone. While it attracts about 50,000 people to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert each year, Burning Man doesn’t appeal to everyone. Almost anything goes, including a lot of nudity. But, attendees, known as “participants,” aren’t truly having a free-for-all. They must follow some specific rules.

Besides giving up cars for transport and practicing “radical self-reliance” (being prepared to survive for a week in the desert on your own), “decommodification,” means no cash transactions. People are meant to bring everything they need for themselves, plus items, events or art to give away. No one gets paid for what they give. Are they very productive, inspired or generous in their gifts?

They sure are. From creating multi-thousand dollar temporary dance halls to 50-foot tall works of art, people at Burning Man create awe-inspiring gifts. E.B. Boyd, in a story for Fast Company "Leadership Lessons from Burning Man" ponders how the event is so successful without money for a motivation.

Boyd suggests that respect and trust, in abundance, make the difference.

Leadership Lessons from Burning Man

Boyd offers readers the following four leadership lessons from Burning Man.

1. It starts with culture. Burning Man becomes the 11th largest city in Nevada for one week, but it has no police men, follows an open door policy and is considered safe to walk around at any time of night, even for women. How is this possible? Boyd suggests that the rules to be lived by are not only taught they are explained along with how the benefit of them to participants’ experience. The rules are given, and the why behind them.

Q: Do you give employees at your company the “why” behind what you ask of them?

2. Add a dose of trust and positive reinforcement. Signs and reminders throughout Burning Man remind participants of the rules, but almost always with a dose of humor. The principles of “makes sense” and communal spirit assume that people are trustworthy, rather than controlling them from the top-down.

Q: Is there a joke you could add to the sign asking everyone to recycle?

3. Motivate with autonomy. Rather than its organizers assigning certain activities to certain participants or outlining what the event needs in advance, attendees do all of the thinking and creating for the event. The organizers simply offer the space.

Q: What if employees were asked more often offer solutions to company challenges?

4. Reward people with appreciation, rather than money. In his most recent book Drive, Daniel Pink claims that you cannot always motivate people with money. Beyond affording their basic survival, offering more money to a creative person won’t inspire more or better creativity. Autonomy, along with mastery and purpose, says Pink, gets people producing, happily.

Boyd says it well, “Trust people and they will usually live up to that trust. Give people creative freedom, and they will surprise you with what they deliver… yet many organizations fall down… offering only money rather than latitude in the effort to drum up creativity.”

Q: When is the last time each person in the company, individually, has received an award, thank you or gift card and been acknowledged for their contribution?

We’ll finish quotes from recent Burning Man attendees describing why they think the festival motivates people to work hard and be creative.

“Everyone is welcomed and invited to not pass judgment. So, maintenance men use their skills to build incredible camps, thinking about everything needed to survive in the desert. They get to do things they wouldn't normally do at work. Everyone gets a chance to be respected and give respect. Confidence, I think, is sometimes lacking in workers because they don’t get the opportunities and positive feedback from people in their company. Burning Man builds people’s confidence.”

– Elizabeth W.

“I think why Burning Man works is because it’s like a blank canvas. The desert is free and clear of anything and you bring everything to it. It’s open to anyone’s interpretation of what Burning Man means. There is no judgment. It’s all about people sharing what it is that they are good at. People bring themselves to it in such a big way. They are nurtured and they are in a place where they are not going to get judged. They turn up the volume on their personalities and their own skills sets.”

– Stefan D.

Related Posts:

Do you have a topic you would like Compensation Today to cover? Write us at comptoday@payscale.com

More Resources from PayScale:




Add yours
  1. 1

    [url=http://sacpliage.webnode.fr]besace longchamp[/url] ?Conditions d’utilisation et du Reglement sur le respect de la vie privee d’eBay.Elle a rompu la premiere avec l’homme choisi par les Fran?ais.?retro rocket asics Tous droits reserves sacs longchamps en solde.It comprises a shiny cube of stainless steel a little larger longchamp sac femme than a washing-machine drum.Aussi influence par sac longchamp cuir la pop culture que par le strass et la communication, il developpe une oeuvre qui trouve son point d’orgue lors de la Biennale. [url=http://longchampssac1.webnode.fr]longchampssac1.webnode.fr[/url]

    [url=http://sacpliage.webnode.fr]longchamp sac[/url] ?son nom a savoir: ‘Anima Sana In Corpore Sano’ du latin qui signifie: ‘Un esprit sain acheter sac longchamp dans un corps sain’.On imagine a cet instant la salle de redaction du Nouvel Obs sac lomgchamps bruissant de propos houleux, d’empoignades verbales.Eventuell fallen zus?tzliche Gebuhren an.La honte.Les interets seulement Pas le capital.sacs longchamps en solde Mais Franco Ballerini, le s閘ectionneur italien, a d閏id.Le timing ideal pour un repas serait de 20 minutes.>> Samedi 8 de.
    [url=http://www.longchampsacsoldefr.com]sac longchamp[/url] ?rmes du contrat, les athletes ont la possibilite d’arborer des chaussures d’une marque differente, a precise la FFA.rattraper les 閏happ閟 avant de longchamp pliage les l鈉her 15km plus loin sur une soudaine acc閘閞ation.Esters then points sac voyage longchamp to the control panels.En bas de la discussion, des conseils sur les chaussures, les blessures, les allures de course.Bref, de quoi transformer les Moschino girls en neo-Barbarella a cheveux choucroutes et oeil de longchamp pas cher biche borde de faux cils.” Leeh.
    [url=http://sacslongchamps2.webnode.fr]sac longchamp[/url] j’ai achete les memes mais en rouge l’an dernier et c’est vrai qu’elles sont sublimes.Il ambitionnait clairement un cartable longchamp chrono autour des 9″70.Le sacs longchamps pas chers modele Asics (44,95 euros) est tres confortable.Ca passait en revue les avantages et les inconvenients de la balle dans la tete, de la pendaison, des medocs, d.

  2. 2

    [url=http://www.longchampsacsoldefr.com]sac lomgchamp[/url] ?business, il confesse un amour certain pour la bonne cuisine et les bons vins.LE FIGARO – Vous n’etes sous contrat qu’avec peu d’equipes nationales en athletisme: le Japon, l’Australie, les pays bas et l’Italie.If this is not the case longchamp sac soldes for your group, talk to your coach about setting up an optional 5K one weekend or evening.Conclusion : soldes sacs longchamp il est surement tres bien pour les moins precautionneux mais pas du tout pour les sportifs.Pour conna?tre sac lomchamp les frais et option. [url=http://isabelbaskets.webnode.fr]isabelbaskets.webnode.fr[/url]

    [url=http://www.longchampsacsoldefr.com]sac longchamp[/url] ?porte monnaie longchamp Les marques et marques commerciales mentionnees appartiennent a leurs proprietaires respectifs.A powerful share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing just a little analysis on this.Ruckfield n’est pas ChabalDepuis 2009, Chabal prete, en effet, son image besace longchamp a la marque Ruckfield.Evite de manger du sucre rapide, gateaux sucreries, car ?a tombe de suite sur les cuisses, ventre et fesses.sac longchamps pas cher We study the function of acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs).
    [url=http://longchampspaschers.webnode.fr]longchamp[/url] ?rsey vente sac longchamp enduit, Thierry Mugler, 250 euros et 620 euros, Bandeau, Prada.Les pedophiles n’entrent pas dans la categorie de l’acquis mais dans celle de l’inne, les recidivistes longchamp que la prison a largement amoches doivent y retourner le plus vite possible.Paul’s Chapel – Andrew-John Smith – Andrey Chistyakov – Andris Vitolins – Andy Palacio the Garifuna Collective – Angel Maria – Angela Brown – Angela Gheorghiu – sac roseau longchamp Angelica Tuccari.
    [url=http://www.isabellemarantshopfr.info]isabelle marant[/url] ??unky Soul Players present Stephanie Cooke – The Future of House – The Future Sound of Budapest – The Future Sound of London – The Future Sound Of Scandinavia – The isabel marant perkins Future Sound of Yesterday Orchestra – The basket compens茅e isabel marant Futureless – The Fuzz Patrol – The Fuzzy Feeling EP – The Gabberbox – The Game Music Committe basket isabel marant 2011 – The Game Music Committee – The Gang – The Garden Of Eden featuring Angela McCluskey, Mark Tinley and Pam Hogg – The Garland Cult – The GateKeepers – The Gath.

  3. 3

    [url=http://www.longchampsacsoldefr.com]acheter sac longchamp[/url] ?縟epuis sa plus jeune enfance par le v et le dessin de mode, sa grand-m couturi.Mieux vaut se sac longchamp sold茅s tromper que de n’?tre pas s?r.Gouvernante longchamps pour s’occuper trois petits gar莽ons, environs Arles.??urberry veut prendre le contr么le de ses parfums [url=http://christianstore.webs.com]christianstore.webs.com[/url]

    [url=http://longchampspaschers.webnode.fr]sac longchamps pas cher[/url] ?縮ac longchamp homme ns dans le coup.J’ai alors beaucoup voyag茅.Entre Ryan Trecartin, artiste anticonsum茅riste qui vient de faire l’objet d’une exposition au mus茅e d’Art moderne de la ville de Paris, et l’arriv茅e chez Kenzo du duo californien Humberto Leon et Carol Lim, fondateurs d’Opening Ceremony, voil? plusieurs cartable longchamp exemples de cette ambigu茂t茅 qui fait la richesse de l’Etat, si bien d茅crit par Kerouac: “Sauvage, important, mais la terre des solitaires, des exil茅s, des acteurs d茅chus.” longchamp.fr La bipolarit.
    [url=http://sacpliage.webnode.fr]sac pliage longchamp[/url] Les solutions de paiements par t茅l茅phone sont en plein foisonnement, avec une s茅rie de syst?mes d茅velopp.
    [url=http://sacslongchamps2.webnode.fr]sac longchamp[/url] ?縠 longchamp solde livraison internationaux, consultez chaque annonce individuellement.The continuous public appeal and the youthful image of these couture creations are lasting aspects of Madame Lanvin career.Magis), inspir茅e de l’茅clairage de chantier.C’est avec elle que Jeanne Moreau entretient des Liaisons dangereuses et prend des sac lomgchamp Amants, Deneuve est Belle de jour en robe nuit griff茅e YSL.La couleur des parfums alors sacs longchamps en solde se teinte d’impressions d’ailleurs, d’imaginaires lointains.Une chose est s?re, cet hiver il faudra sortir co.

  4. 4

    dH2Y7h http://basketis.webnode.fr [url=http://basketis.webnode.fr]basket isabl marant[/url] yF2S8m
    mV5C6i http://isabelmarantsale3.webnode.fr xO2C8x [url=http://saleisabelmarant.webnode.fr]isabel marant[/url] wA4S9e
    yI7T0q http://isabellemarantsales.webnode.fr [url=http://isabellemarantsales.webnode.fr]isabelle marant[/url] cB3F8a
    xK8O2l http://isabelmarantsale3.webnode.fr [url=http://isabelmarantsale3.webnode.fr]sneakers isabel marant[/url] nC2W6w
    tZ3S8d http://sneakersonlinees.webnode.es lG6G6d [url=http://sneakersonlinees.webnode.es]isabel marant sneakers[/url] bO6H0o

+ Leave a Comment