Motivation 3.0

Daniel H. Pink’s (2009) book – Drive – examines human motivation through the ages. For our early ancestors roaming the savannahs, Motivation 1.0 was a simple matter of survival – for food, shelter, sex. As nomadism gave way to agriculture, the principle of minimising risk and maximising reward took on a more sophisticated form with the need to manage social relationships. This he labelled Motivation 2.0 and was to influence the management sciences to this very day.

Motivation 2.0 is based on the stick-and-carrot approach. Reward desired behaviours and punish that which you wish to discourage. It assumes that in an organisational context, humans respond only to external forces. Driving change requires threats, coercion or bribes. This approach had some merits with evidence of improved performance when tasks are of a routine or repetitive nature.

However, this same model can result in major malfunctions as employees game the system to their advantage. The 2008 financial crisis a spectacular case in point. Pink points out the counterintuitive experimental result that for tasks requiring some element of creative or lateral thinking, performance actually degrades for those subjects offered a financial reward. His model for Motivation 3.0 builds on the premise of behavioural science research such as Theory X and Y and self-determination theory (SDT) to build a framework better adapted to the demands of the modern workplace.

In Motivation 3.0 we focus on intrinsic factors such as purpose, mastery and autonomy. The author argues that encouraging such self-directed behaviour results in improved outcomes for the unstructured, knowledge based work that makes up the emerging creative class of the 21st Century. For leaders this suggests that efforts to transform an organisation must appeal to these intrinsic interests of the individuals affected. The rationale for change should relate to the employee’s sense of purpose in a meaningful way, it should connect to his continued professional development and he should be allowed the latitude to implement the changes as best he sees

Leave a Reply