Award Your Own Genius Grants
I'm a big fan of the MacArthur Foundation's "Genius grants". Besides the instant recognition they confer, sometimes on obscure individuals, I've always just loved the idea. Why? Because it's not a reward so much as a vote of confidence in what they're going to do. And it's no strings attached. It's creating freedom for creativity and brilliance unhindered by money worries. Time pressure is the enemy of creativity.
Julia Kirby of the HBR asks a good question: Why not just award your own genius grants?