Tradeoffs of reward systems.

Individualistic, autonomy-focused organizations invest heavily in their heavy-hitters and less in everyone else (perhaps to their detriment, but not necessarily).

Control-centered hierarchical organizations tend toward reflecting the organization chart in its pay scale, with higher pay usually implying higher altitude.

Cooperative organization designs may prefer flatter pay scales to more evenly distribute the pain or gain. May benefit from scaling the pain with the degrees of responsibility in the organization.


  • Narcissistic autonomy, draining everyone to fund the most important people.
  • Communistic control, draining lower tiers to reward top tiers.
  • “Milk and honey” cooperation, where skill is not rewarded and top talent won’t join.
  • “Crazy quilt” that follows many schemes, making it difficult to understand how contributions result in reward.


  1. Robert W Keidel, Seeing Organizational Patterns: A New Theory and Language of Organizational Design (Washington, D.C.: Beard Books, 2005). (See notes.)