How can companies get the best possible performance out of their employees? Let them do whatever they want! And furthermore, don't offer incentives. Sound counter-intuitive? Not if you look at what research has shown regarding the economics of motivation.
According to Dan Pink (lawyer, speech writer, author, and career analyst), the way to get the best original ideas out of people is to cut back on restrictions and rules regarding output, and stop offering incentives for work produced. This may sound a little backwards, but science has shown that sometimes when we offer rewards for output or production, it effects the quality of the ideas or work as opposed to offering no incentive.
So does this mean we should cut back on bonuses and perks for good performance? Well, maybe. In tasks that involve focused, clear objectives and goals, incentives do work. However, in tasks that involve creativity, innovation, and generating original ideas, offering incentives actually distracts from the mind's ability to freely think outside of the box and be open to creative insights.
When we are offered a reward for a behavior, part of our brain is focused on that reward, which is how incentives work. However, if we are doing a task that requires creativity, narrow focus limits the range of necessary flexibility of thought that is essential to creative output. When we are given no incentive and thus free to completely devote our mental efforts to just solving the problem, our mind is able to generate these creative solutions faster.