In Daniel Pink’s excellent book, DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he argues – well, here’s his own Twitter summary of the book:
Twitter summary (in Pink’s own words, from the end of the book): “Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”
Pink argues passionately for the supremacy of intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation. He wrote: For artists, scientists, inventors, schoolchildren, and the rest of us, intrinsic motivation – the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing – is essential for high levels of creativity.
But… our country is in the midst of a dry spell in the innovation department. And, one piece of recent legislation provides for government prizes for innovation. Here’s an excerpt from the Slate.com article by Annie Lowrey, Prizewinning Policy: Can Washington get America’s economy moving again with cash rewards?:
There’s good reason for the government to get in on it: Prizes work, and they have a surprisingly long pedigree. Most famously, in 1714, the British government offered £20,000 to anyone who could devise a reliable way of measuring longitude at sea, a problem neither Newton nor Galileo could solve. (Clockmaker John Harrison won in 1773.) Napoleon offered a prize for innovations in food preservation for his army, leading to the development of modern canning. And the $25,000 Orteig Prize spurred Charles Lindbergh to make his trans-Atlantic flight.
The evidence backing the prize boom is not entirely anecdotal, either. There is not a huge body of academic research into prizes, but what there is supports them. One oft-cited study examines the prizes offered by the Royal Agricultural Society of England between 1839 and 1939. “We find large effects of the prizes on contest entries,” the researchers wrote in 2008, confirming that prizes do indeed spur innovation, as opposed to just rewarding pre-existing advances. “[W]e also detect large effects of the prizes on the quality of contemporaneous inventions.”
Here is what I think. Intrinsic motivation is great – I’m a big fan of Daniel Pink’s argument. But, for any breakthroughs that actually make life better, and help us build a better economy, I think we ought to use all the arrows from any quiver available.
You can purchase my synopsis of Drive, with audio + hadnout, at our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
Cheryl offers: This is embarrassing to admit, but I’m going to do it. I just tried to register for First Friday Book Synopsis only to see the computer screen read “SOLD OUT”. I saw this on my computer screen and thought “What? How can that be?” Now for those of you who are not familiar with this event, it occurs every month on the first Friday, just like the name states. Therefore, I know this happens each month and since I attended last month’s event, I even knew which books were going to be showcased tomorrow. I’m in a real pickle here folks. I’ve been promoting this with some key executives at my company and there are 3 who want to attend tomorrow along with me. How did this happen I ask myself? I found solace in Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind. When Pink describes the value of telling stories and how much longer we all remember stories than mere data, he says “Story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn’t run through the left side (that would be the logical side) of the brain.” Oh perfect! I was telling myself the story “I know I need to do this and I know I can wait until the last minute. It’s OK because it’s always been OK.” If I had thought about this logically, I would have taken action to ensure things happened smoothly. Lesson learned again: Be careful who I listen to, especially when it’s myself!
After a day of food and fun with our granddaughter, the undisputed center of the household at the moment (when she is in town), we settled down to watch Avatar. (Yes, I had seen it at the theater).
There are a lot of ways to look at this film. Here is one: it is the battle between Motivation 2.0 and Motivation 3.0 (Daniel Pink’s terms). The context: the corporate profit seekers need the Navi to move away from their beautiful home, in order to turn a greater profit.
Here’s the relevant dialogue (from the script, found here):
So — who talks them into moving?
What if they won’t go?
I’m betting they will.
Killing the indigenous looks bad, but there’s one thing shareholders hate more
than bad press — and that’s a bad quarterly statement. Find me a carrot to
get them to move, or it’s going to have to be all stick. (emphasis added).
Jake is shaken by the enormity of this new responsibility.
You got three months. That’s when the dozers get there.
I’m on it.
Selfridge, the “company man,” is the one who uses the imagery of carrots and sticks. Here is his character bio from imdb:
Parker Selfridge is the “company man” on Pandora, the Chief Administrator for RDA. He’s in charge of all the mining operations on the planet and determined not the let the ‘natives’ stand in his way. He’d like to use diplomacy- largely because it looks better from a PR standpoint- but is prepared to use force if necessary.
Well, if you have seen Avatar, you know that carrots and sticks did not win the day. The Navi are fully devoted Motivation 3.0 followers, finding their motivation from within, true intrinsic motivation – motivation that leads them to the greatest of sacrifice.
So, yes, as I watched the movie I thought of the motivation insight from Daniel Pink’s DRiVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Here is his own twitter summary of his book (in Pink’s own words, from the end of the book):
“Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”
I think it is interesting that in the midst of the story of Avatar, James Cameron reveals just how outmoded carrots and sticks are in an evolved community.
• Some observations:
1. Different jobs require different approaches to motivation.
2. Different people require different approaches to motivation.
3. The extrinsic motivation of the last century works best for “routine” jobs.
4. Extrinsic motivation can actually de-motivate for creative jobs.
5. Jobs that require a great deal of creativity and innovation require intrinsic motivation.
6. Intrinsic motivation is related to the higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, and to the concept of Flow popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
7. The new workplace is one that must evolve into a workplace of intrinsic motivation.
• Some questions/implications:
1. Are you primarily intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated?
2. How do you know which approach is the one that works best for you?
3. When have you found yourself in the “state of flow?”
4. How can you provide more autonomy for yourself, and others, in your workplace?
5. How can you better affirm the desire for/need for mastery in your workplace?
6. How can you help yourself and others strive to fulfill a higher purpose in your workplace?
I have long recommended Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner as the best book available on how to get the best out of employees.
Here’s my current reflection… First, look at my first two observations: different jobs do require different approaches to motivation. A person repairing potholes likely needs a different set of rewards than a person who is tasked with coming up with a new marketing campaign. And, two different people likely are motivated in different ways. Kouzes and Posner strongly argue that all rewards should be personalized – i.e., designed for the person as in individual.
But for an increasing number of us, we work “alone.” We have to manage our own work, we have to schedule our own time, and we have to “motivate ourselves.” Though clients and others might encourage us some, we have to get going, day in and day out, on our own.
So – the question for me, and for a lot of you, is this question — how do I motivate myself?
That is the challenge.
I have always deeply admired John Wooden. I wrote this post about him last October, and this brief tribute after his death. But now, after a couple of days of reading/hearing a lot more about him, I want to add, or at least reinforce, a couple of observations.
#1 John Wooden was an exemplar of intrinsic motivation.
In Drive by Daniel Pink, Pink writes this:
If someone’s baseline rewards aren’t adequate, or equitable, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance. You’ll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation. You’ll get very little motivation at all. But once we’re past that threshold, carrots and sticks can achieve precisely the opposite of their intended aims.
What he says is simple, and makes sense. If there is enough money to take care of the “baseline,” then money is “off the table,” and one can concentrate on what is important to that individual.
John Wooden was motivated by this: he wanted to teach.
From Wikipedia: “He never made more than $35,000 a year salary (not including camps and speaking engagements), including 1975, the year he won his 10th national championship, and never asked for a raise,” wrote Rick Reilly of ESPN.
So, yes, Coach Wooden was paid adequately, but he clearly was not motivated by money. He was motivated by his hunger and drive to teach. In his own words:
What am I? Just a teacher – a member of one of the great professions in the world.
In the Los Angeles Times article by Mike Penner, written on the 99th birthday of Coach Wooden (which I quoted in my blog post), he reported that Wooden turned down an offer to coach the Lakers from owner Jack Kent Cooke that may have been 10 times what UCLA was paying him.
Why did he do that? How could he do that? Was he crazy? Quick – name another person who would have turned down such a massive amount of money. Actually, there are others. Pat Tillman left his NFL salary to serve his country. But, admittedly, the list is short.
Wooden turned it down because he viewed himself as a teacher, and he simply was not in it for the money. His motivation came from within, from something that came close to a sense of calling. He was the exemplar of intrinsic motivation.
#2 – Coach Wooden was a great teacher.
As I read about his life after his death, here is a message that is being repeated often: he grew closer to his former players after his wife’s death. What kept them so close to him? For most of them, he was only around them for one chapter of their life – the college chapter. They had other coaches, other teachers. Why so close to him?
I think this. They remembered the impact he had made on them, and they wanted to recapture just a little more of it. Or, at least, to remember it a little better. He was a truly sincere, utterly memorable teacher. Listen to his players. They all seem to remember individual practice session, individual comments, and of course the lesson on how to put on your socks.
He loved to teach. And it has been oft reported that what he missed most after leaving coaching was the practice sessions. Not the games; not the championships; the practice sessions (the teaching sessions).
Those are just 2 observations. I could go on and on. There seems so much to learn from Coach Wooden. I hope you are reading a few of the articles out there.
The list of lessons is long – as it should be. We have lost a remarkable human being.
I have a love-love-hate relationship with the concept of work ethic. First, the obvious – without it, success is impossible. Let me say that again – success, mastery, breakthroughs – they all require a great, dedicated, dead-serious work ethic. (That’s the love-love part of the relationship).
Here’s the hate part. Work ethic alone does not guarantee success. Many people work very hard only to see their plant closed, their company go bankrupt… So – work ethic does not guarantee genuine success. But a poor work ethic practically comes close to guaranteeing failure.
Anyway, here are a few lines from Daniel Pink’s Drive to reinforce the “have a good work ethic” rule.
“Grit” – “perseverance and passion and long-term goals.” (the #1 predictor of success at West Point). In every field, grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment.
“Effort means you care about something, and you are willing to work for it.” (Carol Dweck).
“Being a professional is doing the things you love to do on the days you don’t feel like doing them.” (Julius Erving).