Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dan Pink: "Drive-The surprising truth about what motivates us"

I want to pose one question and present two ideas inspired from Dan Pink's presentation on what motivates us. 

Question: What structure exists in today's workplace to motivate job performance? 

If you're like me, much of what comes to mind are monetary incentives to do more, be more efficient, cut waste, etc.  Other rewards include personal identity--either with the work or with coworkers, a feeling of personal satisfaction from the nature of work, or a sense that one is contributing to society as a whole.

Most of us agree that such incentives either are too scarce or do not work very well.

1.  Pink reveals research showing that increasing monetary rewards resulted in better performance at mechanical tasks but WORSE performance when subjects were asked to perform even rudimentary cognitive tasks.  This test was repeated and the counter-intuitive results were reproduced in industrialized countries as well as developing nations like India suggesting basic tenets of workplace motivation transcend socioeconomic and cultural lines. 

2.  Instead he posits that we are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  As examples, he points to the widespread impact of organizations like Linux, Wikipedia, and Apache--organizations which are for the most part generated by people who contribute their time, talents, and energy without monetary reimbursement.  The rise of Mozilla, creators of popular web browser Firefox, is yet another example of highly skilled people with other jobs who decide to use their limited free time to serve a bigger purpose.

Whether that purpose is to challenge the existing status quo, or to be " the cause of making the world a better place," (Skype) or to "put a ding in the universe," (Steve Jobs), we find that we are all in search of something that makes us happy and feel like we are fulfilling some purpose. 

1.  What would you say that your purpose is in your current workplace?  Do you know what the organization's mission is?
2.  Regarding autonomy, mastery, and purpose, what is the easiest change you can implement at your workplace to be happier?
3.  What purpose do you think would motivate and give you energy this next year?

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