The Puzzle of Motivation
The world-famous TedTalk by Dan Pink about how the motivation, performance, and creativity of people rises or falls by intrinsic versus external factors is watched by more than 8 million people and with good reason.
With Dan Pink’s own words, when it comes to motivation we have some of the most robust results in social science. Results that we have replicated over and over again for over 40 years. Yet, these results are also some of the most ignored.
Management continues as if these results don’t exist and managers continually believe that pay rises and other extrinsic rewards will result in higher performance among employees. Meanwhile, what we see is that external incentives block creativity and dull thinking. At best they have no effect and at worst they do much harm.
What we are stuck on, is the idea that a high reward will result in high performance. However, once you get above basic (rudimentary) cognitive skills, this rule does not apply. In fact, it’s the other way around.
Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose
If you are prepared to leave behind folklore belief about what motivates people, it is time to have a closer look at motivation research. The new operating system, as Dan Pink explains it, revolves around three elements:
- Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives
- Mastery: the desire 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
If you are further curious about the motivation of people then you’ll enjoy this video about what we can do to increase the motivation of employees in organizational settings.
DRIVE: The Surprising Truth about the Motivation of Us
When Dan Pink spoke at the RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce) they created this fantastic animation that ‘illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace’. 17 million has watched this YouTube video. We appreciate the comment of one viewer that goes something like this:
The fact that people find it surprising that people like doing stuff that’s meaningful to them disturbs me
Still, we continue as if these scientific results never existed, Dan Pink regrettably reports to us.
Watch the surprising truths about what motivates us in this excellent animation of what Dan Pink has at heart teaching us about motivation. It’s from The RSA ANIMATE: The surprising truth about what motivates us:
In terms of the motivational factors these videos, which are largely presenting the same results, are challenging the general understanding that if you reward something you get more of the behavior you want and if you punish something you get less of the behavior you want.
This animated video will take you through some of the evidence about motivation research across different cultures and settings.
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