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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Comments (2)
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  • Shelley says:

    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?

  • Evan Plaice says:

    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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