I listened to a very interesting TED Talk today by Dan Pink. You can watch it below or read my brief notes from it.
Pink discusses several research studies on how typical reward-based motivation works very well for routine, mechanical tasks, but fails — and actually decreases performance — for tasks that require any kind of creativity.
The solution is to add intrinsic motivation for cognitive/creative tasks, which comes in three forms.
- Autonomy – an urge to direct our own lives
- Mastery – a desire to get better and better at something that matters
- Purpose – a yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
Traditional management is good for compliance, but self-direction is good for engagement. He then goes on to tell a few stories of how autonomy has worked for companies in the real-world.
- Traditional rewards do work, but only in a narrow band of circumstances.
- If-then rewords often destory creativity.
- The secret to high performance is the unseen intrinsic drive.
As I think about what projects I’ve felt especially motivated on in the past, I can definitely identify how I’ve been motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I hope to seek, with more clarity, projects and work that have these characteristics.