Monday, September 14, 2009

Motivation -- Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

"Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. It's not Utopian, I have proof."
--Dan Pink.

This TED talk from Dan Pink on the economics of motivation. This is an awesome presentation with good information and a compelling speaker. The thesis: Knowledge work doesn't improve with higher incentive rewards, in fact it may be hindered. Why is there a mismatch between what Science KNOWS and what Business DOES?

This has been replicated over and over and over again for nearly fourty years. These contingent motivators, "if you do this, then you get that," work in some circumstances but for a lot of tasks they don't work or often they do harm. This is one of the most robust findings in Social Science and also one of the most ignored.

The talk dovetails nicely into the book I'm reading Predictably Irrational by D. Ariely, which I would suggest for further reading. As well as Management Rewired, which is next on my reading list.

Two quotes from Ariely used in this talk:

"As long as the task involved only *mechanical* skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance."

"But once the task called for "even *rudimentary cognitive skill*," a larger reward "led to *poorer performance*."

What would Peter Drucker say? I think he'd approve. Drucker "maintains that people motivate themselves. You can't motivate them; you can only thwart their motivation.To be an effective leader you must recognize that the business you're you're in is the obstacle identification and removal business. "source.


Lydia Hirt said...

We’re also inspired and motivated by the work of Daniel Pink and appreciate your interest in the man behind the groundbreaking bestseller, A WHOLE NEW MIND. I’m excited to let you know that December 29 marks the release of Pink’s latest book, DRIVE.

Bursting with big ideas, DRIVE is the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people--at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink explains in his new and paradigm-shattering book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does--and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it's precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today's challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation:

*Autonomy- the desire to direct our own lives
*Mastery- the urge to get better and better at something that matters
*Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

We hope Daniel Pink’s DRIVE will open your eyes and change the way you think in 2010!

Please visit and for additional details.

Andrew Grangaard said...

Lydia, thanks for the comment. I hadn't heard of the new book, and now I'm looking forward to it.

I'd love to get a copy to read and write a review.