Motivation 3.0

A recent event reminded me I should read Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. I picked it up in August to read, but since my copy is a hard back the Georgia heat would warp it, so I left it forgotten in the bedside table. So here I am, thoroughly enjoying it.

My 2009 post TED Talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation is about his discussion of the ideas covered in the book. It one of my favorite all time TED Talks. RSA produced an animated video for a similar talk on the same topic.

Rewards improve performance for mechanical tasks. They malfunction when the tasks require rudimentary thinking. These extrinsic motivators are what Pink calls Motivation 2.0. We need to look at Motivation 3.0 where intrinsic motivators drive performance. They are:

    • Autonomy – urge to direct our own lives
    • Mastery – urge to get better and better at something that matters
    • Purpose – urge to do participate in something larger than themselves

Recently I lamented about how I may have profited from Specialist Culture, employees who are technically gifted or great in their fields don’t have to consider how their behaviour or work affects anyone. (Source: The Toxic Workplace) The benefit of being considered an expert in a rock star team? We suffer less compliance and receive more autonomy so we can self direct ourselves to mastery and take on the projects that give us purpose. I realized for most of my career I have had great amounts of autonomy. Supervisors pointed me at the problem, provided a vision of the end result, and let me go at it. That is a tremendous trust even for a 19 year old that I guess I earned. (Surprising.) Also, these supervisors provided me valuable instant feedback on my work.

Perhaps the history of being treated this way is why I treated the student assistants I supervised this way. Also, losing autonomy at my prior position and the way that frustrated me was a huge factor in my being poached away to my current position. Anyway, this stuff will continue to be a part of my thinking both in how bosses treat me but especially how I work with teams. An interesting question is how to arrive at more areas of the organization to achieve the same?

TED Talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

I was attracted to this video because a while ago I read Daniel’s book: A Whole New Mind. Take the concept that simple, clearly defined jobs will move to overseas. So to succeed in the United States, children need to be learning conceptual skills and become the people inventing the work doled out to overseas workers. Let’s ignore that overseas workers are more than capable of conceptual work like our kids.

The pervasiveness of functional fixedness perhaps explains why I have a job. (That and I’m not a gestault pscychologist.) The web comic xkcd recently posted a flowchart on how to become a computer expert where the pick one at random is overcoming functional fixedness. Much of what I do is figuring out non-intuitive issues and document a way to make it work aka a workaround.

I like his list of what economists say are good motivators to replace monetary incentives. The opportunity to get incentives like these drew me to this project. Of course, we don’t have the levels of autonomy Pink describes. Baby steps! Can you see your employer allowing the employees to spend one day a year working on whatever the employees wish to deliver a new product? Some autonomy in a group I work with here resulted in Yaketystats.

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

My favorite quote:

Traditional notions of management work great when you want compliance. If you want engagement, self-direction works better.

So this video is why this week I’ve been talking about how compliance sucks.  🙂