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Clare Hudson
Clare Hudson
  • 1 Minute Read
  • 29th July 2011

What is motivation?

I recently watched a talk by writer Daniel Pink called ‘The surprising science of motivation’. Pink begins by saying, “If you want people to work better, reward them... right?” He then goes on to say that there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

In 1962 psychologist, Sam Glucksberg conducted an experiment called the Candle Problem to find out the effectiveness of incentives in problem solving situations. I won’t go into the details here, but results indicate that providing incentives are only effective when solving easier and more linear based problems. And rewards are counter productive when if the task requires creative thought

Pink argues that at work people desire to do something because it matters, it’s interesting, it's enjoying, or because it’s part of something important. He suggests that intrinsic motivation is far more fulfilling than the lazy and dangerous carrot on the stick ideology many businesses still employ today.

As a solution, Pink believes that corporations throughout the world should revolve around the following 3 ideologies:

  • Autonomy- The urge to direct our own lives.
  • Mastery- The desire to get better at something that matters.
  • Purpose- The yearning to do what we do in the service of something that is larger than ourselves.

Pink goes onto say that: “Traditional notions of management are great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement, self direction works better.” And money is not something that should be the driving force behind any employee.

Google, one of the most successful companies in the world appears to have embraced the Pink mindset. Schedules are not set in stone and staff are trusted to get their work done in their own hours. All employees at Google can also spend 20% of their time working on anything they like, whether it’s directly related to their role or not. As a result approximately half of all new ideas/ products are created during the 20% time.

Zahid Chaudhri, current Marketing Director at SOS commented "I have always encouraged my team to be a self-sufficient and self-reliable as possible. We don’t want to create drones or robots, we want employees to feel self-motivated and strive to be the best they can be by giving them a relaxed non-linear work environment where challenging the norm and creative thinking are encouraged."

Click here to view Daniel Pink’s talk, ‘The surprising science of motivation’.

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