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Drive by Daniel Pink- Part II

November 20, 2011

Here is where it gets really REALLY interesting. In the first chapter of part two, Pink explains that a company started giving employees periodic time to work on projects unrelated to work, and the results were……*drum roll, please*….. higher productivity! Post-its are actually a direct result of this company allowing work-time for non-work related projects!

By granting people complete autonomy and moving to a ROWE (results only work environment), another company actually raised production and morale! They could come and go as they pleased without fear of retribution for leaving early or showing up late, regardless of the reason. As long as the work was completed by the deadline, they were completely independent to do as they pleased.

Autonomy means “acting with a choice (p.88).” I was particularly moved by this paragraph, “Perhaps it’s time to toss the very word ‘management’ onto the linguistic ash heap alongside ‘icebox’ and ‘horseless carriage.’ This era doesn’t call for better management. It calls for a renaissance of self-direction. (p.90)” Cannon-Brookes says that “money is only something you can lose on. If you don’t pay people enough, they will leave. Beyond that, money is not a motivator.”

“Motivation 3.0 requires autonomy over task, time, technique, and team.(p.92)” Cannon-Brookes can attest demonstratively to the outstanding results provided by allowing heavier autonomy with no management or supervision of that time, at all. When people have autonomy and genuine control over when they work, how they work, what their work is, and who they work with, they are happier and motivated to produce better both intrinsically and extrinsically (for the company and for themselves).

“Autonomy can be contagious. (p.105)” LOVE IT!

‘Motivation 2.0 suggests that people will shirk responsibility, given autonomy. Motivation 3.0 assumes that people want to be accountable, so autonomy will make them more effective.’ Different people prefer autonomy over different parts of the structure (team, task, time, technique). I just want to interject here, I think this structure would be more sound if we agreed that we can have autonomy and still use rewards on a relatively consistent basis to promote excellence within performance! Instead of completely abandoning rewards past baseline pay, as Pink suggests, I think we should use baseline pay to satisfy basic needs, then move to autonomy for intrinsic motivation, and finally use praise and bonuses or perks (whichever) as further rewards of functioning well in this work environment. This movement from 2.0 to 3.0 work environments will engage people on a level most companies have not achieved in their entire histories of existence.

Engagement drives mastery of a task, something essential in today’s world of interaction. Mastery is a foundational part of the third drive Pink describes (see Part I). Csikszentmihalyi developed a theory surrounding autotelic experiences (meaning ‘self purpose’) and called it “flow”. He explains this as a mental state when people are enjoying the most satisfaction out of their experiences. This flow is a point when the individual is totally autonomous, totally engaged, and totally lost in the moment. ‘At work, flow has clear goals and quick feedback. (p.115)’ This can be used to construct projects and tasks which keep people engaged and motivated; which will lead to satisfaction at the job and better production.

This I found particularly interesting, “Forty-eight hours without flow plunged people into a state eerily similar to a serious psychiatric disorder. (p. 127)” Csikszentmihalyi says that flow is the “Oxygen of the soul.” We cannot survive without it for any real length of time and the effects of such withdrawal are severe. It makes me wonder if the times that I have gone to the counselor here at school and said “I feel like something is wrong, but I don’t know what…” were all times that this was the case. It’s relieving to finally have a reason and a name for the condition.

Motivation 2.0 emphasizes profits while Motivation 3.0 emphasizes purpose equally to profits. This is the important factor. Social scientists have said that ‘how people spend money is more important and has a stronger effect than how much money the individual has. (p. 140)’ How you spend your money can actually have a beneficial or detrimental effect on your health, which demonstrates the point that purpose goals are more influential than profit goals.

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