Session 10: Daniel Pink

Best-selling author, business thinker, and former White House speechwriter, Daniel Pink has been credited with defining a new era in the workplace. His book A Whole New Mind examined the kinds of “right brain” skills that will be required as we move from an Information Age to a Conceptual Age. His new book, Drive, looks at the science of motivation, and he’ll be revealing key findings about the forces that will drive employees in well-led organizations of the future: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Pink is also the author of Free Agent Nation, and his articles on business and technology have appeared in The New York TimesHarvard Business Review,Fast Company, and Wired.

What Motivates Us: Not What You Think

  • What motivates us?
  • Drive
  • Biological Drive
  • Reward and Punishment Drive
  • Human beings respond to rewards and punishments.
  • There is a third drive
  • We want to learn, and connect.
  • The view inside organizations is a two dimensional view of human beings. We stop at the two drives. We discourage the biological drive, and we elevate the reward and punishment drive.
  • Business study
    • As long as the tasks involved only mechanical skills, bonuses worked as expected. After the task called for rudimentary cognitive skill, the larger reward led to worse performance.
    • “If you do this then you get that”
    • Those kinds of motivators work really well for simple tasks.
    • However they don’t work very well for more complicated, conceptual tasks. Because those kind of rewards give you tunnel vision. It is not good if you are trying to solve complicated problems.
    • This is taking us down a wrong path to have tunnel vision.
  • Story about Redgate Software
    • They had a salesforce. How do you compensate salespeople? Commission.
    • The salespeople starting gaming the system. So the company made the system more complex. So the people started becoming more complex.
    • So the CEO said, “I want to eliminate commission for salespeople.”
    • Raise the base pay, and give them some share at the end of the year.
  • One of the problems we have in organizations is that we make the wrong assumptions of people. If we make the wrong assumptions, no matter how hard we work, it doesn’t go very well.
  • There are some false assumptions we make
    • Human beings are machines – if we press the levers in the right way then people will do what you want them to do. – Not True
    • Human beings are passive blobs – if we didn’t offer them anything, then they wouldn’t do anything. – Not True – our nature is to be engaged and active.
  • Get rid of those two assumptions.
  • What does work?
  • 3 Key motivators:
    • Autonomy
    • Mastery
    • Purpose
  • Autonomy
    • Management – We look at management and say, it has always been here, we don’t ask “Where did that come from?”
    • Management is a technology designed to get compliance. It is something that someone invented. A technology from the 1850’s.
    • But we don’t want compliance, we want engagement. Management fundamentally doesn’t lead to engagement.
    • Self-direction leads to engagement.
    • Giving people autonomy over their work, time, team, task, and technique.
      • Ex. Google – Google News, Gmail, etc. all ideas from people on their own time.
    • So how do we do this in our organization?
    • It is not a off/on switch. It is a dimmer switch.
    • Try a FedEx day – Take a day, and cultivate your ideas that don’t have to do with work, and then come back the next day and talk about them.
    • Don’t do it for everyone, do it for a group of people you think it would benefit.
  • Mastery
    • On a weekend someone is going to be spending their time playing the bassoon. Playing the bassoon on the weekend is strange behavior. Why are they doing this? Because it is interesting, and fun.
    • When are people feeling the most motivated?
    • The days that people were making progress. The single biggest motivator is making progress. Progress is free.
    • Flow are those delicious moments in life when the challenge is so matched to our capabilities that we lose sense of time.
    • Create organizations that are more flow friendly.
    • How do we get more feedback in our organizations?
    • Encourage people to take it into their own hands. We should be out there doing our own performance reviews.
    • Teams will meet, not with the bosses approval, and talking about how they are doing.
    • Setting our own team goals.
  • Purpose
    • The profit motive is a good thing, but it is not the only thing.
    • There is a purpose motive.
    • When the profit motive becomes undone from the purpose motive then bad things happen.
    • Inside organizations if the single rallying cry is “lets raise earnings share” it is insufficiently motivated.
    • People are telling businesses “You have to act more like a social sector, non-profit.”
    • I listen to what people tell me, but I also listen to the pronouns they use. “We” or “They”?
    • “They” indicates a form of alienation.
    • Are you a “We” organization or a “They” organization.
  • How do we change things? Organization, church, world.
    • Can I change my organization? No, one person cannot.
    • But thats the wrong questions.
    • Can I change what I do tomorrow?
    • Yes.
    • Small steps in your own world.
    • Everything good in life starts with a conversation.
    • The more we have conversations, the more we can change.
  • Thank you all for changing the world.

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