The research behind Drive

by

(this is part of on ongoing series on the book Drive, the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us)

Drive is based on some perspective-shifting research, which I won’t describe in detail because you can get a summary from the video. It is compelling, and it is worth digging deeper in the first couple chapters of the book if you are interested in this stuff.

Pink doesn’t talk much about Motivation 1.0, which is all about the motivations we have as humans to survive, but he does talk about Motivation 2.0 and its shortcomings, leading us to the need to operate more in a Motivation 3.0 mentality.

Motivation 2.0 is focused on maximizing rewards and minimizing punishments. This has been our standard operating procedure in life and business for a while. Most company cultures and their associated performance systems are based on rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. Think about it – performance reviews, raises, bonuses, promotions, demotions, outplacements. – it is all “carrots and sticks”.

And now to the premise of this book. If you’ve seen the video, you’ll see that for the kind of knowledge work we do today, research shows that carrots and sticks not only don’t help incent the right performance but are actually detrimental! People who are offered financial incentives to do creative tasks perform poorer than those who weren’t. And they enjoy it less.

People are motivated extrinsically only up to a point, a point at which they make enough money to provide for their needs. Beyond that, people are motivated intrinsically, especially the people we want to hire in the jobs we want to hire them into.

This could be a very a good thing. Intrinsic motivation is a renewable resource – whereas trying to continually incent people via money can be a losing game. Plus intrinsically motivated people are more successful, healthier and happier in the long term.

I’m very convinced our company and our clients’ companies should focus more on Motivation 3.0, built around three elements: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. I’m still not ready to completely let go of the old performance incentives. But I’ll get back to that later.

Next I’ll go through each of the dimensions and some ideas of how we can bring them into our companies … each of these blogs will talk a little about technology organizations as well as consultancies, since I know I have readers from both types of groups!

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