What motivates you?

I’ve recently been listening to a compelling audiobook about motivation, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, which author Daniel Pink says is about “the mismatch between what science knows, and what business does.”

Pink calls for a “new operating system” for business that focuses not on the extrinsic “carrot and stick” incentives, but on factors that contribute to intrinsic motivation. Carrots and sticks, or “if/then” rewards, not only don’t work (in most circumstances): they’re usually harmful and counterproductive, particularly for non-routine work.

Pink says the three key elements of what he calls “Motivation 3.0” are:

  • Autonomy – giving employees control over their tasks, time, team and technique.
  • Mastery – Becoming better at something that matters. Carrots and sticks can produce compliance, but only engagement can produce mastery.
  • Purpose – “Humans by nature seek purpose, a cause greater and more enduring than themselves. But traditional businesses have long considered purpose ornamental: a perfectly nice accessory, so long as it didn’t get in the way of the important things.”

When I tweeted about reading this book, my friend Lucien Engelen (@Zorg20) tweeted back a link to a post he had done for the TEDxMaastricht blog that included a video of Dan Pink from the TED Global 2009 conference. I’ve embedded that video below, because it provides a good introduction to Pink’s ideas. I hope it gives you enough of a taste that you’ll get the book, either via audio (on Audible) or in printed form.

In a future post I will discuss how social media can help cultivate intrinsic motivation, or what Pink calls “Type I” behavior. Meanwhile, you can get his book on Amazon. I highly recommend it.

Update: Wow! Check out this video that was mentioned in the comments below. Fantastic summary/visualization of Drive!

5 thoughts on “What motivates you?”

  1. What motivates you?
    One part of motivation for many people is for others within the organization to appreciate and understand their work. There are so many people who help an organization run smoothly and so many times we are not even aware of their function let alone their “above and beyond” efforts.

    While the title of this program I designed and presented was Appreciation Application it motivation was part of the foundation.

    Lee, I hope you will not mind this clear self-promotion but I want to show the appreciation employees gave each other when the focus of a presentation is focused upon them. Kanna Tayor wrote this piece from St. Charles Community College, MO.


    I was so pleased she really understood the goal:
    “The maintenance, housekeeping and grounds crew was by far the most interesting because I don’t get to interact with them on a daily basis. It was really cool to hear everyone’s stories and I really think I have a better understanding and appreciation for what all of my co-workers do for SCC.”

    No matter how talented a surgeon, advanced the equipment, compassionate and remarkable the nursing staff, etc if a room is not clean a patient will not recover and they might even die.

    We all matter within an organization. What motivates employees? Many times it’s as simple as a thank you, listening to their ideas and honoring the contribution they make everyday.

    Lee, I’m sure the Mayo Clinic does a wonderful way of motivating and appreciating your employees.


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