Why do people do what they do? What drives behavior? Understanding this is important for guiding your own behavior to achieve your goals, and driving other people’s behavior to meet the organization’s goals.
Starting with the basics: humans, like any other animal, have a foundational desire to survive. Thus we seek food, water, and shelter.
On a higher level, we also seek reward and avoid punishment. Within management, this gave rise to the “carrots and sticks” model - reward the behavior that you want, and punish the behavior you don’t want.
This system worked well in the era of industrialization. Because human work in factories was easy to measure, it was easy to see how work policies changed productivity. Pay a person more per widget they make, and that person will crank out more widgets. These extrinsic (or external) rewards work well for routine tasks.
But in the new information economy, this model is now outdated. The new economy requires thinking skills - creativity, collaboration, long-term thinking. But research suggests extrinsic rewards harm all of these qualities:
The model of extrinsic rewards also doesn’t explain some trends, like people leaving well-paying jobs for lower-paying jobs they enjoy more. It doesn’t explain why unpaid volunteers...
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Drive has interesting ideas that seem true on introspection, but the book is very light in cited research, and heavy in anecdotes. The concepts in Drive originated in basic research, but many applications in management are only anecdotes – a certain company instituted 20% time, and lo and behold they started growing! Select anecdotes suffer heavily from bias and are relatively unconvincing.
Furthermore, since its publication, **several policies touted by the...
Drive begins with a research study. In the 1940s, operant conditioning was the standard model of behavior. The foundation of this model was that if you give a reward to someone after a behavior, you encourage that behavior to happen again. If you don’t reward a behavior, it extinguishes over time. This idea was borne out in numerous animal studies and also became the model for human management in the workplace.
But in 1949, Harry Harlow, a professor of psychology, discovered a deviation from this standard reward model. His team had created a mechanical puzzle for rhesus monkeys to complete. They placed the puzzles in the monkey cages to habituate them to the puzzle in preparation for the real studies that would happen two weeks later. But strangely, the monkeys began playing with the puzzles independently, with determination and what looked like enjoyment. Without any explicit rewards like fruit juice, the monkeys learned to solve the puzzle of their own volition. Classic operant conditioning couldn’t explain this - why would the monkeys do anything without the expectation of a reward?
This breakthrough finding prompted Harlow to offer another model of motivation:...
Much like computers, society is run by underlying operating systems – a set of protocols, laws, and understandings that govern how we view the world and how we behave with each other.
The earliest operating system, termed Motivation 1.0 in the book, was simple, biological: we are animals trying to survive, and satisfying the primal needs of food, water, shelter, and sex is a fundamental driving force. This kept the human species alive for much of our evolutionary past.
But when humans created more complex societies, Motivation 1.0 was inadequate. Satisfying primal urges would have encouraged theft, murder, and adultery. So common expectations of behavior were put into place to suppress Motivation 1.0. Humans transcended to organize around a second drive, Motivation 2.0: to seek reward and avoid punishment.
This worked especially well during industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries. Because human work in factories was easy to measure, it was easy to see how work policies changed productivity. Pay people more per widget they make, and they’ll crank out more widgets.
Thus, the **management approach in this period viewed workers as simple cogs in...
The outdated Motivation 2.0 is based on two ideas:
This “carrot and stick” model is still generally effective in the workplace. At a minimum, compensation serves as a “baseline reward” or a “hygiene factor” – if it’s not there, the worker cannot focus. She’ll obsess over how unfair her situation is and be anxious about her financial problems. So high enough financial rewards are necessary for a baseline of motivation.
But Motivation 2.0 is incomplete in explaining worker behavior. Even further, when it’s applied incorrectly, it can actually be counterproductive.
Given a task without promise of pay, you might think it’s kind of interesting and worth doing just for its own enjoyment. Get paid to do it, and suddenly it’s not as fun any longer.
We’ve already seen research studies supporting this idea in the Introduction.
Remember Tom Sawyer’s fence painting experience, when he’s punished with whitewashing a fence. When another boy walks by, Tom pretends to be loving his time....
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Reflect on how rewards affect your behavior and motivation.
Have you ever done something purely for fun, then started getting paid for it? Describe the situation. How did getting paid change how you felt about the work, and how motivated you were?
The author admits that rewards and punishments do work well in certain conditions.
First, workers need a secure baseline of compensation and work environment. If a worker is constantly anxious about how she’s going to put food on the table, she’ll find it hard to concentrate, no matter how enjoyable the task is.
Next, extrinsic rewards work when the task at hand is routine and doesn’t involve creative thinking. Here, rewards don’t threaten intrinsic motivation because there is little intrinsic motivation to be undermined. Imagine doing a routine job on an assembly line.
You can make this work in your favor by promising rewards for work that is dull. For instance, if you need your team to pitch in on package shipping over the...
In the book we’ll discuss two types of behavior:
People tend to be driven primarily by either Type X or Type I. Consider yourself – what gets you up in the morning and pushes you through the day? What motivates that colleague that seems like a continuous go-getter?
Organizations also tend to be driven primarily by either Type X or Type I motivation. Picture a strict, commission-based salesforce running on Type X, while a free-working company...
Think about different scenarios where you’re more Type X or Type I.
Do you consider yourself more motivated by extrinsic rewards, or by intrinsic rewards? Describe why you believe this, maybe with a specific recent example.
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So far, we’ve covered how the traditional reward/punishment system is limited in motivating today’s workers. But how do we replace Motivation 2.0?
With Motivation 3.0, which is focused on intrinsic rewards. In the next 3 chapters, we’ll go through the 3 main components of Motivation 3.0: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
Consider this thought experiment: would you rather be paid $75,000 to be an architect for the rest of your life, or $100,000 to be a toll booth operator for the rest of your life? If you choose the former, you’ve recognized that compensation isn’t everything. Being an architect gives you the autonomy, mastery, and purpose that is worth real value.
Autonomy is acting with internal choice. With autonomy, you have the ability to influence the work that you do and how you do it.
Autonomous motivation has been associated with good things: greater conceptual understanding, better grades, job satisfaction, higher productivity, less burnout, faster company growth, and better psychological health.
Autonomy is different from independence. Autonomy does not imply doing it alone and refusing the help of others. Instead, autonomy means acting...
Autonomy gives you more internal choice over what to do and how to do it.
Which of the four components of autonomy is most important to you? (Tasks, Time, Technique, or Team). How much autonomy do you get in this today?
People naturally want to get better at skills and get recognized for their competency. This is mastery.
How is the pursuit of mastery beneficial? Mastery drives people to be more productive and more satisfied with their work. One study showed that in an engineering workplace, the desire for intellectual challenge was the best predictor of productivity. People who were extrinsically motivated worked just as hard, but they accomplished less, as defined by number of patents filed. And a survey of employees found that the greatest motivator is “making progress in one’s work.”
In your organization or life, you can promote mastery in these ways:
The pursuit of mastery drives people to be more productive and more satisfied with their work. Try to improve your desire for mastery.
Do you have a skill that you wish to master? What is it, and what level of mastery do you want to achieve?
In addition to autonomy and mastery, the how and the what of work, the third pillar of Motivation 3.0 is the why of work. What purpose does the work serve? What is the value of what I’m doing? In particular, people are wired to want to help other people – it may be part of our evolution, selecting for people who do something beyond themselves.
In the absence of outward-looking purpose, people can become anxious or depressed. And if people blindly profit goals, at the expense of building meaningful relationships and achieving purpose, they may regret their emptiness when it’s far too late to change course.
Data suggests that today’s workforce is feeling an increasing need for purpose:
Now that you understand the components of motivation, try to figure out how to increase yours.
Which one of the three components is weakest in your life: autonomy, mastery, and purpose? Why do you feel this way?
The book ends with a number of tips on achieving Type I intrinsically motivated behavior. We’ve grouped them into three categories:
Here are exercises to bring more Motivation 3.0 into your life and make necessary changes.
What is your sentence?
A congresswoman once told President JFK, “a great man is a sentence. Lincoln’s was: ‘he preserved the union and freed the slaves.’ FDR’s was: ‘he lifted us out of the Great Depression and helped us win a world war.’ What is your sentence?”
What is your sentence? What is the one thing you want to accomplish or be known for? You may need to reorganize your life to focus on this.
How did you get better today?
In pursuit of your sentence, you’ll need a lot of small tasks and setbacks. To keep yourself motivated, ask yourself at the end of the day: “are you better today than you were yesterday?”
Write down your small incremental steps, like learning 10 foreign words, or running two laps. Remind yourself you won’t be a master by day 3, and that...