Motivation: What I Learned from Daniel Pink

Below is a summary of my notes from Daniel Pink’s book Drive.

Intrinsic Motivation

  • The drive do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing
  • Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward-seeking counterparts.
  • Our innate need to direct our own lives (autonomy), to learn and create new things (mastery), and to do better by ourselves and our world (purpose)

Three innate psychological needs: When these needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy.

  1. Autonomy: means acting with choice; something that people seek and that improves their lives; of the three needs it’s the most important; autonomy over four aspects of work: 1) what people do, 2) when they do it, 3) how they do it, 4) and whom they do it with; Different individuals value prize different aspects. Autonomy leads to engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery;
  2. Mastery: urge to get better and better at something that matters;
  3. Purpose: yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves; Most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

Extrinsic Reward

  • Adding certain kinds of extrinsic rewards on top of creative, right-brain tasks can often dampen motivation and diminish performance.
  • Contingent rewards (carrots and sticks)—if you do this, then you’ll get that—stifle creativity.
  • Goals imposed by others—sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on—can sometimes have dangerous side effects.
  • Extrinsic rewards can encourage unethical behavior, create addictions, and foster short-term thinking.
  • Rewards are addictive in that once offered, a contingent reward makes an agent expect it whenever a similar task is faced, which in turn compels the principal to use rewards over and over again. And before long, the existing reward may no longer suffice. This forces the principal to offer larger rewards to achieve the same effect. If we watch how people’s brains respond, promising them monetary rewards and giving them cocaine, nicotine, or amphetamines look disturbingly similar.

Designing for Intrinsic Motivation

  1. People on your team must have autonomy, they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery, and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose.
  2. People must set goals set for themselves that are devoted to attaining mastery.
  3. For creative, right-brain tasks, use “now that” rewards that provide praise, feedback, and useful information about their work.
  4. The baseline rewards must be sufficient (salary, contract payments, some benefits) or his/her focus will be on the unfairness of his/her situation. You’ll get very little motivation at all.
  5. External rewards and punishments can work with routine tasks.
  6. Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete.
  7. For routine tasks:
    • Offer a rationale for why the task is necessary.
    • Acknowledge that the task is boring.
    • Allow people to complete the task their own way.

9 Strategies

1.  Encourage Peer-to-Peer “Now That” Rewards.

2.  Conduct an Anonymous Autonomy Audit

  • How much autonomy do you have over your tasks at work—your main responsibilities and what you do in a given day?
  • How much autonomy do you have over your time at work—for instance, when you arrive, when you leave, and how you allocate your hours each day?
  • How much autonomy do you have over your team at work—that is, to what extent are you able to choose the people with whom you typically collaborate?
  • How much autonomy do you have over your technique at work—how you actually perform the main responsibilities of your job?

3.   Take 3 Steps toward Giving Up Control

1. Involve people in goal-setting.

2. Use non-controlling language.

3. Hold office hours.

4.   Play “Whose Purpose is it anyway?”

Ask each person to write down his or her one-sentence answer to the following question: “What is our company’s (or organization’s) purpose?” Collect the cards and read them aloud. What do they tell you? Are the answers similar, everyone aligned along a common purpose?

5.  Use Reich’s Pronoun Test

Do employees refer to their company as “they” or as “we”?

6.  Design for Intrinsic Motivation

Create an environment that makes people feel good about participating. Give users autonomy. Keep the system as open as possible.

7.  Promote Goldilocks for Groups

Goldilocks task—the kind that’s neither too easy nor too hard, that delivers a sense of flow.

8.  Try 20% Time With Training Wheels

9.  Turn Your Next Off-Site Into a Fedex Day

Set aside an entire day where employees can work on anything they choose, however they want, with whomever they’d like. Make sure they have the tools and resources they need. And impose just one rule: People must deliver something—a new idea, a prototype of a product, a better internal process—the following day.

Parents and Educators: Nine Ideas for Helping Our Kids

1.  Apply the Three-Part Type I Test for Homework

  • Am I offering students any autonomy over how and when to do this work?
  • Does this assignment promote mastery by offering a novel, engaging task (as opposed to rote reformulation of something already covered in class)?
  • Do my students understand the purpose of this assignment?

2.  Have a FedEx Day

  • Set aside an entire school day, and ask kids to come up with a problem to solve or a project to tackle. Next morning, ask them to deliver—by reporting back to the class

3.  Try DIY Report Cards

  • At the beginning of a semester, ask students to list their top learning goals. Then, at the end of the semester, ask them to create their own report card along with a one- or two-paragraph review of their progress.
  • Show them the teacher’s report card, and let the comparison of the two be the start of a conversation.
  • Include students in any parent-teacher conferences.

4.  Give Your Kids an Allowance and Some Chores – But Don’t Combine Them

  • Having a little of their own money, and deciding how to save or spend it, offers a measure of autonomy and teaches them to be responsible with cash.
  • Keep allowance and chores separate
    • Chores show kids that families are built on mutual obligations
    • Paying for chore completion teaches that the only reason to do a less-than-desirable task for your family is in exchange for payment.

5.  Offer Praise…the Right Way

  • Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence.
  • Make praise specific.
  • Praise in private.
  • Offer praise only when there’s a good reason for it.

6.  Help Kids See The big Picture

  • Why am I learning this?
  • How is it relevant to the world I live in now?

7.  Turn Students into Teachers

  • best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

Intrinsic Motivation

· the drive do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing

· Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward-seeking counterparts.

· our innate need to direct our own lives (autonomy), to learn and create new things (mastery), and to do better by ourselves and our world (purpose)

Three innate psychological needs: When these needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy.

1. Autonomy: means acting with choice; something that people seek and that improves their lives; of the three needs it’s the most important; autonomy over four aspects of work: 1) what people do, 2) when they do it, 3) how they do it, 4) and whom they do it with; Different individuals value prize different aspects. Autonomy leads to engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery;

2. Mastery: urge to get better and better at something that matters;

3. Purpose: yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves; Most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

Extrinsic Reward

· Adding certain kinds of extrinsic rewards on top of creative, right-brain tasks can often dampen motivation and diminish performance.

· Contingent rewards (carrots and sticks)—if you do this, then you’ll get that—stifle creativity.

· Goals imposed by others—sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on—can sometimes have dangerous side effects.

· Extrinsic rewards can encourage unethical behavior, create addictions, and foster short-term thinking.

· Rewards are addictive in that once offered, a contingent reward makes an agent expect it whenever a similar task is faced, which in turn compels the principal to use rewards over and over again. And before long, the existing reward may no longer suffice. This forces the principal to offer larger rewards to achieve the same effect. If we watch how people’s brains respond, promising them monetary rewards and giving them cocaine, nicotine, or amphetamines look disturbingly similar.

Designing for Intrinsic Motivation

1. People on your team must have autonomy, they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery, and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose.

2. People must set goals set for themselves that are devoted to attaining mastery.

3. For creative, right-brain tasks, use “now that” rewards that provide praise, feedback, and useful information about their work.

4. The baseline rewards must be sufficient (salary, contract payments, some benefits) or his/her focus will be on the unfairness of his/her situation. You’ll get very little motivation at all.

5. External rewards and punishments can work with routine tasks.

6. For routine tasks:

o Offer a rationale for why the task is necessary.

o Acknowledge that the task is boring.

o Allow people to complete the task their own way.

7. Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete.

9 Strategies

1. Encourage Peer-to-Peer “Now That” Rewards.

2. Conduct an Anonymous Autonomy Audit

· How much autonomy do you have over your tasks at work—your main responsibilities and what you do in a given day?

· How much autonomy do you have over your time at work—for instance, when you arrive, when you leave, and how you allocate your hours each day?

· How much autonomy do you have over your team at work—that is, to what extent are you able to choose the people with whom you typically collaborate?

· How much autonomy do you have over your technique at work—how you actually perform the main responsibilities of your job?

3.   Take 3 Steps toward Giving Up Control

1. Involve people in goal-setting.

2. Use non-controlling language.

3. Hold office hours.

4.   Play “Whose Purpose is it anyway?”

Ask each person to write down his or her one-sentence answer to the following question: “What is our company’s (or organization’s) purpose?” Collect the cards and read them aloud. What do they tell you? Are the answers similar, everyone aligned along a common purpose?

5. Use Reich’s Pronoun Test

Do employees refer to their company as “they” or as “we”?

6. Design for Intrinsic Motivation

Create an environment that makes people feel good about participating. Give users autonomy. Keep the system as open as possible.

7. Promote Goldilocks for Groups

Goldilocks task—the kind that’s neither too easy nor too hard, that delivers a sense of flow.

8. Try 20% Time With Training Wheels

9. Turn Your Next Off-Site Into a Fedex Day

Set aside an entire day where employees can work on anything they choose, however they want, with whomever they’d like. Make sure they have the tools and resources they need. And impose just one rule: People must deliver something—a new idea, a prototype of a product, a better internal process—the following day.

Parents and Educators: Nine Ideas for Helping Our Kids

1. Apply the Three-Part Type I Test for Homework

· Am I offering students any autonomy over how and when to do this work?

· Does this assignment promote mastery by offering a novel, engaging task (as opposed to rote reformulation of something already covered in class)?

· Do my students understand the purpose of this assignment?

2. Have a FedEx Day

· Set aside an entire school day, and ask kids to come up with a problem to solve or a project to tackle. Next morning, ask them to deliver—by reporting back to the class

3. Try DIY Report Cards

· At the beginning of a semester, ask students to list their top learning goals. Then, at the end of the semester, ask them to create their own report card along with a one- or two-paragraph review of their progress.

· Show them the teacher’s report card, and let the comparison of the two be the start of a conversation.

· Include students in any parent-teacher conferences.

4. Give Your Kids an Allowance and Some Chores – But Don’t Combine Them

· Having a little of their own money, and deciding how to save or spend it, offers a measure of autonomy and teaches them to be responsible with cash.

· Keep allowance and chores separate

· Chores show kids that families are built on mutual obligations

· Paying for chore completion teaches that the only reason to do a less-than-desirable task for your family is in exchange for payment.

5. Offer Praise …the Right Way

· Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence.

· Make praise specific.

· Praise in private.

· Offer praise only when there’s a good reason for it.

6. Help Kids See The big Picture

· Why am I learning this?

· How is it relevant to the world I live in now?

7. Turn Students into Teachers

· best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

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One thought on “Motivation: What I Learned from Daniel Pink

  1. Hi. Thanks for the summary! I found it today after listening to an interview with Daniel Pink on one of my favorite CBC radio shows. Here’s a link to the interview. http://www.cbc.ca/spark/ just scroll down ’till you see the interview with him.

    Thanks, Doug

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