Friday, May 06, 2011

Autonomy, mastery and purpose

It was a while ago now that I read Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” but it is so good that it deserves a mention. This is a book that everyone working to raise employee/team productivity in some form should read. It summarizes forty years of scientific research and the consequences are far reaching for Managers, team leads, scrum masters, coaches, or anyone else working with organisational structures, reward systems, personnel strategies, productivity, recruitment, etc.
Basically, human beings are motivated to perform complex cognitive activities by three intrinsic drives: 
     
  • Autonomy; the desire to be self-organising and to structure one’s own situation.
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  • Mastery; the desire to become better at an activity, to learn and understand a knowledge domain.
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  • Purpose; the desire to contribute to a greater cause, to do something profound, to impact other peoples lives in some way. 
It is these three intrinsic drives and not the traditional extrinsic drive of monetary reward that are the most powerful motivators. However, if our expectations of fair and reasonable extrinsic rewards are not met this can have a devastating negative effect on our performance. Surprisingly, expected monetary rewards can even decrease our motivation in complex cognitive tasks to a point where we perform worse than we would have with no reward!

All-in-all a very interesting read and a great source of inspiration!

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