Thursday, February 18, 2010

Motivation: DRiVE - The Presentation

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsDaniel Pink visited my place of work and he gave an awesome presentation on his book, “DRiVE: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us.” Mr. Pink will discussed the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

After attending the presentation, I am excited to go check this book out at my library and put it on my wishlist on What follows are the notes that I took away from this presentation and I am recording it here for my own reference so that I can remember what I learned.

Mr. Pink began his presentation with some tips on how to give a good presentation.
Brevity, Levity, Repetition.

An illustration of how money is not always the best motivator.
An interesting problem posed by some researcher back in the 1960's. You have matches, a box of thumbtacks, and a candle. Find a solution to light the candle but keep the wax off the table.

Eventually, participants will find that the solution involves using the box that the thumbtacks are stored and tacking it to the wall, and placing the candle inside.

The solution is unique in that the box actually has a second function from what you originally saw it as just a container for the tacks - but as something useful to the end solution.

Now, how quickly can different groups of people solve the above problem when money as a motivator is applied? Interestingly, the money incentivized group finds the solution much slower, an average of 3.5 minutes slower. However, if you repeat the problem with the tacks sitting outside of the box, both groups find the solution very quickly, and the money incentive works to speed the result.

The reason? All the ingredients were immediately available. When it is an algorithmic problem, or simple mechanical process, it is fine to be focused with money as the motivator. Incentives tend to narrow our vision and increase our focus. However, if cognitive skill is required, larger rewards lead to poorer performance overall.

Rewards, okay. What about punishments?
Example was given of a childcare facility that had a problem with parents coming in late to pick up their children. Idea of a solution was to charge or fine the parents for arriving late. Result - the rate of parents arriving late actually increased!

Before, it was a matter of a personal relationship. If a parent arrives late - the caregiver has to stay late. With the implementation of the fine - it became a transactional matter. Additionally, there was no guilt for the wrong of arriving late, just a simple fine. Other solutions involving shame, 3 strikes your out, all lead to undesired outcomes. Suddenly, you are dealing with grievances, exceptions, loss of business, etc. However, if you maintain the solution in the moral realm, make it contractual, people will honor understand their impact of arriving late and improve their behavior.

Rewards and punishments are not enough to motivate people in every case. It is not just that simple. For example, we honor our moral obligations. We practice musical instruments. Why? Because it is fun and interesting to us. Beyond money as a motivator - why do people work at NASA and earn less than their counterparts in private industry?

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

Management is great for compliance but self engagement is way better for productivity. The software company in Australia, Atlassian, holds what they call Fedex Days. They are given Thursday afternoon as a day to do whatever they want as long as they present on it on Friday. They have to deliver over-night. Surprisingly, people are rising up and responding to the challenge and they are not being motivated by money.
There are other companies that employ this 15% time or 20% time method to increase worker productivity. Gmail and several other famously popular Google projects, many of their best ideas, you may have originally found in their "Labs" section, were all spun out of from 20% time projects. The ubiquitous sticky note was an unofficial 3M project. Some of the greatest ideas come from people being turned loose and allowed to experiment with their creativity. In a world of management the idea of turning your people loose requires a lot of trust and a paradigm shift that the 15-20% time off the normal project will actually help the company's bottom line. But if you look around and see where people love to work - it is where they can be semi-autonomous.
PJ's thoughts: History is overflowing with stories of the people rising up and overthrowing governments. To quote Star Wars, "The tighter your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

We are busy people and yet, even after working our 9 to 5 we come home and still find time to volunteer in different organizations, or work for free on projects that fulfill us. The whole idea of open source software is an idea that is revolutionary. People from all over the globe can collaborate and create something wonderful and then give it away for free. This is enjoyment based intrinsic motivation. We all feel the need to become better at what we do. In fact, the biggest contributor to workplace happiness, or the days that you feel most productive at work are the days that you can feel like you are making progress. Performance evaluations, however twisted and convoluted they are today, were originally designed as a way to provide feedback. Anyone that has developed a talent has done so with lots of feedback. Athletes measure their performance and compare how they did after each event. Student musicians practice at home and then receive feedback from their weekly lessons. They can measure their progress - it is a huge motivator.
PJ's thoughts: Just think of all the people that have gotten themselves out of debt. You hear stories of how they made a chart and crossed off a debt, or watched the numbers continually getting smaller over time. It is a motivator.

For the first time in decades, private industry recruiters are losing people to government jobs. Some of that is due to the economic situation, but there is a bigger reason. People wanted to do something, be a part of something, and have their work matter. When you are at work, just listen to the way people talk. Do you refer to your company and the work you do as "we" or as "they".  The content, who love their work are a part of it and say "we" did this. Those that are there to pay the bills talk about how "they" (the company) did something.

What really motivates us to do the things we do? I am not sure in every case. But I know that some of my original ideas were definitely proven wrong. I am excited to get this book and to read it and to learn more from it.

Do you have any experiences where you or someone was motivated to do something by a unique method? Share below in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails