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Book Review: Green Beans and Ice Cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Reinforcement by Bill Sims Jr.

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Green Beans and Ice Cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Reinforcement by Bill Sims, Jr. explains that people appreciate recognition and praise more than a paycheck. Although remuneration is important, people appreciate positive reinforcements from the boss, as well as peers. In this way they derive the highest level of satisfaction, while on-the-job performance levels increase.

Sims explains that you can’t punish a team into winning. A winning formula includes positive reinforcement upon the achievement of key milestones. Negative reinforcement and punishments may produce temporary adherence to rules until the boss steps away. Intrinsic motivation drives people to do things whether or not a reward is involved. The book explains that good performance should be commended; otherwise, employees may look elsewhere.

Sims provides examples of how positive reinforcement changes the appearance of the brain on an MRI machine. The best reinforcers, according to Sims, are commendations from the boss followed by peer recognition. The worst reinforcers are gifts that people can’t use and pizza parties.

The beauty of positive reinforcement is that it works everywhere, especially overseas. The author explains that workers in other countries receive very few, if any, compliments from bosses. Sims found that complimenting these workers for their work was received very well because it’s hardly ever done in the  bureaucratic cultures elsewhere.

Sims provides specific examples of positive reinforcement in action in the workplace. A prime example is seen in the use of pink Cadillacs to motivate top salespeople at Mary Kay. A corollary is that feedback plus autonomy are the keys to more dramatic increments in work performance.

The book traces the various progressions of employee resistance: from worker inability to do a task, to outright non-compliance, to compliance, and finally to employee commitment and engagement to do a task voluntarily.

Green Beans and Ice Cream is an important and insightful work which focuses on how to motivate employees beyond the classic steps involved in Maslowe’s hierarchy of needs. Maslowe’s hierarchy of needs begins with basic physiological needs and progresses in a stepladder fashion to self-actualization in achieving fullest potential.

Sims adds validity to his claims and  provides individual testimonies of workers and companies at the book’s website.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.