Daniel Pink: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

RSA offers up another animated video explaining what makes us tick. This time, they’re featuring a lecture by Daniel Pink, the bestselling author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Revisiting research also found in Dan Ariely’s new book, The Upside of Irrationality, Pink drives home the point that traditional motivation schemes – namely, bonuses – rarely achieve their intended results. In fact, the bigger the bonus, the bigger the decline in performance. Or so studies show again and again. So what does motivate us? The desire to be self-directed. The will to master something. The hope to make a contribution. It’s all what Pink calls “the purpose motive,” and it’s the stuff that keeps this site moving along.

Related Content:

Dan Ariely on the Irrationality of Bonuses

Barbara Ehrenreich on The Perils of Positive Psychology

Philip Zimbardo on The Secret Powers of Time

via Fora.TV



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  1. Shelley says . . . | June 24, 2010 / 4:20 pm

    Wow. Although I’m a writer, my “day job” is as a college teacher, and I’m wondering–is this study available to all the so-called education experts who think the way to fix the schools is to offer teachers bonuses?

  2. Evan Plaice says . . . | June 28, 2010 / 5:16 am

    Being someone who has poured tons of time/effort into open source projects I can attest that work for free and/or a purpose is infinitely more satisfying than working for money. For one main reason. When you work for money, essentially you’re being paid to make somebody’s idea work whether it’s good or bad simply because they have money. In the open source dev world, if you have an idea, that’s not enough to garner support from the community. There are 3 common outcomes of sharing an idea in the open source environment: one, your idea is great, receives widespread support and is generally accepted (feels great); two, one or more people hear your idea it becomes an eye opening experience for them. Suddenly you will be surrounded by support from highly skilled and talented people who are thinking on the same wavelength as you (greatest feeling); three, somebody who has a better idea of the system you’re trying to apply your idea to and points out a major flaw in your thinking so you re-formulate, look for feedback, or abandon the idea because it’s stupid (not a bad thing). #1 and #2 are ideal outcomes but they’re generally the exception. #3 is important because programmers generally have an internal god complex, to hear that somebody else is more knowledgeable than you, you aren’t as smart as you thought you were, you need to work harder to understand the problem so that you can present it in a fashion that will gain acceptance from the community. Being humbled provides the purpose to want to do better, the mastery is gained by becoming good enough to garner support and have your idea be accepted by the community, the self-direction is the responsibility to face criticism and aversion to become better. It’s easy to be the best in an environment that’s driven by ‘the pointy haired boss’ where being the best usually involves ample time on your knees. It’s supremely difficult or impossible to be the best in a community of capable peers who are intrinsically driven to do their best. It’s such a community their time/effort/attention is what becomes valuable and they have no reservations about letting you know about it. If there’s anything intrinsic about motivation, it’s that people want to do their best. Unfortunately, in the business world, that’s not the case. In business, being the guy who ignored any sense of intrinsic motivation to ride on the backs of his peers into glory is the hero. Look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Neither were very talented technically in the bigger picture, Gates was a master at underhanded business deals (dos was bought not created by gates) and buying the results of other people’s talent. Jobs was an hippie idealist who saw an opportunity to ride hist friend Woznizak. Listen to interviews/speeches given by the Woz, he’s literally a genius but like most of his type he struggles to see the world through any perspective but his own narrow view. Jobs got rich simply by providing The Woz with the resources and acted as a barrier/interface to the world so he The Woz could continue doing what he loves to do best.

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