That’s the premise behind the new book by Daniel Pink, Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Pink believes that business is lagging behind what science has had a handle on for the past 30 years— that our current business operating system, which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators, not only does not work but also actually causes harm to what we are trying to achieve.
Pink calls the new approach “Motivation 3.0” and has three basic elements of what motivates people: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Motivation 1.0 was about survival, as seen in the earliest human operating system. It’s successor Motivation 2.0 reared its head in the early twentieth century and was built around external rewards, which worked fine for the routine tasks of the time. But the twenty-first century is bringing new challenges that are not compatible with the 2.0 motivation techniques for the most part.
The basic problem with Motivation 2.0 is that “if-then” rewards often give less of what we are hoping to achieve and generally crush the stuff we want, like high performance, creativity, and good behavior. Pink sites the work of several psychologists and groundbreaking work that started in the mid-1900’s that recognized a strong third drive beyond biological (hunger, thirst, sex) and response to rewards and punishment. This third drive—intrinsic motivation—concerns itself less with the external rewards and puts more importance on the inherent satisfaction the activity brings.
Pink gives great real-world examples of Motivation 3.0 in action at places like Zappos, Atlassian, and Best Buy and details how its “three elements” fit into our desire to direct our own lives, get better and better at something that matters, and to do something that has a result bigger than ourselves. It’s a wonderful read and even includes some discussion points that can be used as a personal review or to share with your colleagues. I recommend it highly.