Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

  1. 1. DriveThe Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsBy Daniel H. PinkBusiness Plus, 2009ISBN 9781594488849IntroductionImagine its 1995. You sit down with an economist - an accomplished business professor with a PhD in economics. You say toher, "Ive got a crystal ball here that can peer 15 years into the future. Id like to test your forecasting powers."Shes skeptical, but decides to humor you."Im going to describe two new encyclopedias - one just out, the other to be launched in a few years. You have to predict whichwill be more successful in 2010."The first encyclopedia comes from Microsoft. As you know, Microsoft is already a large and profitable company. And with thisyears introduction of Windows 95, its about to become an enduring colossus. Microsoft will fund this encyclopedia. It will payprofessional writers and editors to craft articles on thousands of topics. Well-compensated managers will oversee the project toensure its completed on budget and on time. Then Microsoft will sell the encyclopedia on CD-ROMs and later online."The second encyclopedia wont come from a company. It will be created by tens of thousands of people who write and editarticles for fun. Those hobbyists wont need any special qualifications to participate. And nobody will be paid a dollar or a euro ora yen to write or edit articles. Participants will contribute their labor - sometimes 20 or 30 hours per week - for free. Theencyclopedia itself, which will exist online, will also be free - no charge for anyone who wants to use it."Now," you say to the economist, "think forward 15 years. According to my crystal ball, in 2010, one of those encyclopedias willbe the largest and most popular in the world and the other will be defunct. Which is which?"In 1995, you could not have found a single sober economist anywhere on planet Earth who would not have picked the firstmodel as the success. Any other conclusion would have been contrary to nearly every known business principle.Sure, that ragtag band of volunteers might produce something. But there was no way the product could compete with anoffering from a powerful, profit-driven company. The incentives were all wrong.Microsoft stood to gain from the success of its product - everyone involved in the other project knew from the outset thatsuccess would earn them nothing. Most important, Microsofts writers, editors and managers were paid. The other projectscontributors were not. In fact, it probably cost them money every time they performed free work instead of remunerative labor.The question was such a no-brainer that our economist wouldnt have even considered putting it on an exam for her MBA class.It was too easy.But you know how things turned out.On Oct. 31, 2009, Microsoft pulled the plug on MSN Encarta , its disc and online encyclopedia, which had been on the marketfor 16 years. Meanwhile, Wikipedia - the second model - had become the largest and most popular encyclopedia in the world.The conventional view of human motivation has a hard time explaining this result.The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2.0In our very early days - say 50,000 years ago - the underlying assumption about human behavior was simple and true. Wewere trying to survive. From roaming the savannah to gather food to scrambling for the bushes when a saber-toothed tigerapproached, that drive guided most of our behavior. Call this early operating system Motivation 1.0. It wasnt especiallyelegant, nor was it much different from those of rhesus monkeys, giant apes or many other animals. But it worked well.Until it didnt.
  2. 2. As humans formed complex societies, bumping up against strangers and needing to co-operate in order to get things done, anoperating system based purely on biological drive was inadequate. In fact, sometimes we needed something to restrain thisdrive. So in a feat of remarkable cultural engineering, we slowly replaced what we had with a version more compatible withhow wed begun working and living.At the core of this new and improved operating system was a revised and more accurate assumption: humans are more thanthe sum of our biological urges. The first drive still mattered - no doubt about that - but it didnt account for who we are. Wealso had a second drive - to seek reward and avoid punishment more broadly. And it was from this insight that a new operatingsystem - call it Motivation 2.0 - arose.Harnessing this second drive has been essential to economic progress around the world, especially during the last two centuries.In the early 1900s, an American engineer named Frederick Winslow Taylor , who believed businesses were being run in aninefficient, haphazard way, invented what he called "scientific management." His invention was a form of "software" expertlycrafted to run atop the Motivation 2.0 platform.Workers, this approach held, were like parts in a complicated machine. If they did the right work in the right way at the righttime, the machine would function smoothly. And to ensure that happened, you simply rewarded the behavior you sought andpunished the behavior you discouraged.The Motivation 2.0 operating system has endured for a very long time. Indeed, it has been so deeply embedded in our livesthat most of us can scarcely recognize it exists. For as long as any of us can remember, weve configured our organizations andconstructed our lives under its bedrock assumption: the way to improve performance, increase productivity and encourageexcellence is to reward the good and punish the bad.In the 1950s, Abraham Maslow developed the field of humanistic psychology, and in 1960, MIT management professorDouglas McGregor imported some of Maslows ideas to the business world. McGregor challenged the presumption thathumans are fundamentally inert - that absent rewards and punishments, we wouldnt do much. People have other, higherdrives, he said. And those drives could benefit businesses if managers and business leaders respected them.Thanks in part to McGregors writing, companies evolved a bit. Dress codes relaxed, schedules became more flexible. Manyorganizations looked for ways to grant employees greater autonomy to help them grow. These refinements repaired someweaknesses, but they amounted to a modest improvement rather than a thorough upgrade - Motivation 2.1.Incompatibility ProblemsMotivation 2.1 still serves some purposes well. Its just deeply unreliable. Sometimes it works; many times it doesnt.The glitches fall into three broad categories. Our current operating system has become far less compatible with, and at timesdownright antagonistic to, how we organize what we do, how we think about what we do, and how we do what we do.The seven deadly flaws of carrots and sticks are: 1. They can extinguish intrinsic motivation, as people offered money to carry out certain activities stop doing them - or stop doing them properly - unless theyre adequately paid. 2. They can diminish performance, according to various studies. 3. They can crush creativity, as people become too narrowly focused on the monetary rewards. 4. They can crowd out good behavior, as with a daycare that added a fee for picking up children late in the hope that would discourage such behavior, only to find that parents took it as a license to be late if they paid. 5. They can encourage cheating, shortcuts and unethical behavior, as weve seen on Wall Street. 6. They can become addictive. 7. They can foster short-term thinking.Type I BehaviorThe Motivation 2.0 operating system depended on, and fostered, what might be called Type X behavior. Type X behavior isfueled more by extrinsic desires than intrinsic ones. It concerns itself less with the inherent satisfaction of an activity and more
  3. 3. with the external rewards to which the activity leads.The Motivation 3.0 operating system - the essential upgrade thats needed to meet the new realities of how we organize, thinkabout and do what we do - depends on what can be called Type I behavior. Type I behavior is fueled more by intrinsic desiresthan extrinsic ones. It concerns itself less with the external rewards to which an activity leads and more with the inherentsatisfaction of the activity itself.At the center of Type X behavior is the second drive. At the center of Type I behavior is the third drive.Type I behavior is made, not born. These behavioral patterns arent fixed traits - theyre proclivities that emerge fromcircumstance, experience and context. Type I behavior, because it arises in part from universal human needs, doesnt dependon age, gender or nationality. The science demonstrates that once people learn the fundamental practices and attitudes - andcan exercise them in supportive settings - their motivation and their ultimate performance soar. Any Type X can become Type I.Type Is almost always outperform Type Xs in the long run. Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than theirreward-seeking counterparts. Alas, thats not always true in the short term. An intense focus on extrinsic rewards can indeeddeliver fast results. The trouble is this approach is difficult to sustain. And it doesnt assist in mastery - which is the source ofachievement over the long haul.The most successful people, the evidence shows, often arent directly pursuing conventional notions of success. Theyre workinghard and persisting through difficulties because of their internal desire to control their lives, learn about the world and accomplishsomething that endures.Type I behavior doesnt disdain money or recognition. Both Type Xs and Type Is care about money. If an employeescompensation doesnt hit the baseline of what she considers an adequate amount or isnt equitable compared to others doingsimilar work, that persons motivation will crater, regardless of whether she leans toward X or toward I. However, oncecompensation meets that level, for Type Is it takes the issue of money off the table so they can focus on the work itself. Bycontrast, for many Type Xs, money is the table. Its why they do what they do.Recognition is similar. Type Is like being recognized for their accomplishments - because recognition is a form of feedback. Butfor them, unlike for Type Xs, recognition isnt a goal in itself.The Three ElementsUltimately, Type I behavior depends on three nutrients: Autonomy. Economic accomplishment, not to mention personal fulfillment, depends on allowing our true nature to surface rather than keeping it submerged. It requires resisting the temptation to control people - and instead doing everything we can to reawaken their deep-seated sense of autonomy. Mastery. Where Motivation 2.0 sought compliance, Motivation 3.0 seeks engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery. And the pursuit of mastery, an important but often dormant part of our third drive, has become essential in making ones way in todays economy. Purpose. Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people - not to mention those who are the most productive and satisfied - hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.Type I behavior is self-directed. Its devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And it connects the questfor excellence to a higher purpose.ConclusionWe have a choice. We can cling to a view of human motivation thats grounded more in old habits than in modern science. Orwe can listen to research, drag our business and personal practices into the 21st Century, and craft a new operating system tohelp ourselves, our companies and our world work a little bit better.- End -About the author: Daniel H. Pink is the author of A Whole New Mind.
  4. 4. Related ReadingAny of these books can be ordered directly from Amazon ( A), Barnes & Noble ( B) or Chapters ( C) or may be summarized in ourexecuBook library (E).A Whole New Mind: Moving From the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, by Daniel Pink, Penguin Group (USA), 2005,ISBN 9781573223089. A B C EAppreciative Intelligence: Seeing the Mighty Oak in the Acorn, by Tojo Thatchenkery and Carol Metzker, Berrett-Koehler,2006, ISBN 9781576753538. A B C EThink Better: An Innovators Guide to Productive Thinking, by Tim Hurson, McGraw-Hill, 2007, ISBN 9780071494939. A B C E

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