Prevention-Focused and Promotion-Focused

When an organization (or an individual) makes a big, expensive and embarrassing mistake, it attracts loads of attention. But do you know what almost never attracts the attention it deserves? When things go the way they are supposed to. And because of this, roughly half of us — people we call prevention-focused — rarely get the credit we are due.


Promotion-focused people, on the other hand, see their goals in terms of what they might gain if they succeed — how they might advance or obtain rewards. Their strengths, are creativity, innovation, speed, and seizing opportunities — exactly the kinds of qualities that the business community (and our culture as a whole) tends to admire and praise.

The heroes of the business world always seem to be the risk-taking promotion-focused innovators. But you see, it’s really not that there are no prevention-focused heroes — it’s that they are so often unsung. You rarely get the credit you deserve for averting disaster when it never happens. Instead, the prevention-focused toil away, quietly and carefully, making sure that things work the way they are supposed to.

When what you’re good at is keeping things running smoothly, and things do run smoothly, your contribution is — sadly — less likely to be noticed. So you probably won’t get the praise you have in fact earned.

While everyone is concerned with both promotion and prevention, most people have a dominant motivational focus – the one they use to approach most of life’s challenges and demands.  It’s also true that focus can be situation-specific: Everyone is promotion-focused when they line up for a lottery ticket, and prevention-focused when they line up for a flu shot.

Summing-up: We have to pay attention when things are going right, as well as when they’re going wrong. There are two ways of looking at our goals, and these result in two sets of distinct strengths — both of which are critical to the success of any team or organization.

These notes have been taken from:

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