Tag Archives: extrinsic motivation

Daniel Pink May Not Like This – But Let’s Hope it Works (Government Prizes for Innovation)

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.

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You can purchase my synopsis of Drive, with audio + hadnout, at our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

One Size Fits All; Right?! – Not Any More (Motivation 3.0 Has Arrived)

One Size Fits All; Right?! – Not Any More.  This is true in so many ways.  And one way is “motivation.”  In the old days, the days that Daniel Pink calls Motivation 2.0, motivation was simple.  Carrots and sticks. Going back to the days of Frederick Winslow Taylor:

You simply rewarded the behavior you sought and punished the behavior you discouraged.  The way to improve performance, increase productivity, and encourage excellence is to reward the good and punish the bad.  Rewarding an activity will get you more of it.  Punishing an activity will get you less of it.

But we have now moved into the new era of Motivation 3.0.  This is the premise of the book DRiVE:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.  For much of the working population, we still need to use the carrot & stick/rewards approach.  In fact, Karl, my colleague at the First Friday Book Synopsis, presented a synopsis of the practical book, Make Their Day:  Employee Recognition that Works by Cindy Ventrice.  One key piece of advice is this:  “recognize unique contributions with personalized recognition.” And the book has tangible ways to make this work to maximum effect.  This is common, common-sense advice.  (It is also a critical part of the plan recommended in the terrific book Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner).

But, for the newest “heuristic” workers (Pink’s term), there must be a new understanding of and approach to motivation.  Here is my attempt to summarize the key findings in Pink’s book:

The Three Elements

Of Motivation 3.0

What This Might Mean/

Might Look Like

Autonomy:  a renaissance of self-direction “ROWE” – Results Only Work Environment – everyone is/has to be/wants to be a self-starting, self-directing person
Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters (only engagement leads to mastery) (to learn, to create, to better the world) Individuals always keep learning.  With deliberate practice.  (the 10,000 hour rule, with deliberate practice — deep, deepening abilities)
Purpose:  very simply, doing something that matters because it should matter; something done in the service of something larger than ourselves Either have a product/service that matters; or, provide “work time” to do something that matters…

And here is Pink’s own “twitter length” summary of his book:

“Carrots & sticks are so last century.  Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”

Who should read the Pink book?  If you work alone, and you have to be your own self-starting, self-directed worker, you should read it.  If the people you supervise are heuristic workers, you should read it.

And what is a heuristic job – any job that requires creativity, any job that creates something “new.”  From the book:

Working as a grocery checkout clerk is mostly algorithmic.  You do pretty much the same thing over and over in a certain way.  Creating an ad campaign is mostly heuristic.  You have to come up with something new…

Whatever your own job, you should read it.  Because, more and more, you will have to rely on internal/intrinsic motivation.  Because, in my opinion, “carrots and sticks” will slowly disappear from the scene.  Because, to quote Pink again:

…in today’s environment, people have to be ever more self-directed.  “If you need me to motivate you, I probably won’t hire you.”

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{To watch Dan Pink speaking on the key principles found in this book, from a recent Ted Conference, go here).

(I presented my synopsis of Drive this morning at the First Friday Book Synopsis. The two synopses from this morning will be available soon, with audio + handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  And, Encouraging the Heart is available on the site now).