When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system—which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators—doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way.
This new approach has three essential elements:
- Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives
- Mastery —the urge to get better and better at something that matters
- Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
Our “default setting” is to be autonomous and self-directed. Unfortunately, circumstances—including outdated notions of “management”—often conspire to change that default setting and turn us from Type I to Type X. To encourage Type I behavior, and the high performance it enables, the first
requirement is autonomy. People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it). Companies that offer autonomy, sometimes in radical doses, are outperforming their competitors.
While Motivation 2.0 required compliance, Motivation 3.0 demands engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery—becoming better at something that matters. And the pursuit of mastery, an important but often dormant part of our third drive, has become essential to making one’s way in the economy. Mastery begins with “flow”—optimal experiences when the challenges we face are exquisitely matched to our abilities. Smart workplaces therefore supplement day-to-day activities with “Goldilocks tasks”—not too hard and not too easy. But mastery also abides by three peculiar rules. Mastery is a mindset: It requires the capacity to see your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable. Mastery is a pain: It demands effort, grit, and deliberate practice. And mastery is an asymptote: It’s impossible to fully realize, which makes it simultaneously frustrating and alluring.
Humans, by their nature, seek purpose—a cause greater and more enduring than themselves. But traditional businesses have long considered purpose ornamental—a perfectly nice accessory, so long as it didn’t get in the way of the important things. But that’s changing—thanks in part to the rising tide of aging baby boomers reckoning with their own mortality. In Motivation 3.0, purpose maximization is taking its place alongside profit maximization as an aspiration and a guiding principle. Within organizations, this new “purpose motive” is expressing itself in three ways: in goals that use profit to reach purpose; in words that emphasize more than self-interest; and in policies that allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms. This move to accompany profit maximization with purpose maximization has the potential to rejuvenate our businesses and remake our world.
Source: Daniel Pink – Drive