Daniel Pink is a best-selling author and a former White House speechwriter. He brought it during his presentation, and dropped a “frickin'” during his talk. That’s Gary Vaynerchuk-esque by Christian standards.
Here’s my recap of his session.
Human motivation. We eat when we’re hungry. drink when we’re thirsty. We have sexual relations when we have carnal drive. Is that all that makes us human? Unless you’re guy between ages 16-18. We’re more complex than that, though.
There is also a Reward/Punishment drive. If you do this, I’ll give you this. If you don’t do it, you won’t get it.
Is there something more? A third drive? Being at Leadership Summit is not going to satisfy biological drive or reward/punishment drive Why are you here? You believe in something larger than yourself.
Inside organizations we have 2D (two drive) view of human beings. We only see the two drives.
The science of rewards. Research was conducted on how to generate productivity. Three teams made up. One team was told if they did well they’d get a small reward. Another team was told if they did well they’d get big reward. The third team was told if they did well they’d get huge reward. How would it influence their work? As long as it involved only mechanical skill, like throwing something through a hoop, there wasn’t much difference between the teams. Once rudimentary cognitive skill was needed, the team that was told they’d get a huge reward did worse.
Reward doesn’t work well for complicated tasks, if/then rewards. It gives you tunnel vision. You focus on rewards and lose sight of work.
If/then rewards work for simple tasks, but not difficult tasks it is a true fact. Yet we ignore that and we wonder why it keeps failing. Increase reward and we repeat the problem. Need to understand science better to lead organizations better.
Red Gate Software tried something with their organization. How do you compensate salespeople? Commissions. But Red Gate had system of that and salespeople began gaming the system. So Red Gate made system more complex, but then workers upped their game and gamed system again. It went back and forth until CEO stepped in and eliminated commissions for sales people.
CEO talked to top two salespeople before getting rid of commissions and upping base salaries and sharing year-end profits. Top two salespeople were for it, but thought the other salesperson would be against it. We have wrong assumptions of people.
Don’t have wrong assumptions of people. If you do, it hinders organizations.
Two big wrong assumptions that organizations have.
1. Human beings are machines, complicated machines. – If you press the right buttons and levers then you can get humans to do what you want to do. That is not true. Science tells us that isn’t true. Intuition tells us that’s not true. Human beings are complex.
2. Human beings are blobs. – Our nature is to be engaged. I defy you to find a two year old that is passive and inert. Find a four year old that isn’t active and engaged. That is our default setting. When the product ships from factory. Our nature is to be active and engaged. Circumstance can change that, but our essence is to be active and engaged.
Get rid of those two assumptions and it takes you in far more promising directions.
What does work? Autonomy, mastery and purpose. AMP
Autonomy – Think about the word management. We don’t consider the word careful enough. We look at it like we look at a river, tree or something else. For more intenseful purposes, it’s always been there. Management didn’t come from nature or God. Management is a technology. It is something that someone invited. Comes from 1850’s. How many technologies do we use from 1850’s today still? Telegraph is still telegraph not matter how cool it is designed or modernized. Management is technology designed to get compliance. Today though organizations are too complicated. We want engagement but management doesn’t allow that. Self-direction leads to engagement. Very rarely do people say best boss is someone who was authoritarian. Give people autonomy over various dimensions of their work, team, tasks and technique. Time, team, task & technique – and it leads to engagement.
Atlassian tried something innovative. Go work on anything you want as long as it is not part of your work on Thursday afternoon. Then, everyone meets the next day to discuss what people did. It was called FedEx day because you have to deliver something overnight. That one day of intense autonomy has led to fixes of software, ideas and reform within company. Not 2D, but active and engaged which leads to good work. Now do 20% of time doing whatever you want. Google has been doing this since its inception. Google News was not an official Google project. GMail was not an official Google project. “All the good ideas here bubbled up from 20% time.” -Google employee
How do you do this at church or non-profit or organization? It’s hard. People will have hard time comprehending 20% time. People need scaffolding to get there. Try a FedEx day once. Second time? “It frickin’ rocks.” 20% time with training wheels. Do 10% time. An afternoon. Who hasn’t wasted an afternoon during a work week once?
Mastery – Think about a weekend. Stockholm Sao Paulo or Chicago. In one of those cities someone is playing the bassoon on the weekend. Doesn’t explain 2D, it’s not biological or reward/punishment. It’s the bassoon! Why play it on weekend for no money? Because it’s interesting, fun, you get better at it and this is routinely neglected inside organizations.
Good picture of motivation when you chart it. According to research, single largest motivator at work is making progress. The days that people were making progress were motivating to people. Getting better, contributing more, workers were motivated on those days. Get managers to help workers see their progress.
Flow are delicious moments where we lose sense of time and self when project matches our skill. We’re more likely to have those moments at work than leisure. Create work environments that are flow friendly. To achieve mastery we need feedback. Workplace is one of the most feedback deprieved environments. Annual performance review, a flawed institution. Rafael Nadal wouldn’t be a champion tennis player if he only got feedback once a year.
Reviews are America’s form of Kabuki theater. Highly stylized, rehearsed encounters where people follow scripts and hope it gets over early. Encourage people to take it into their own hands. Give yourself an assessment. Chart feedback.
Purpose – We’re seeing limits of profit motive. Good thing morally and efficiently, but not the only thing. There is a rise of purpose motive, especially as boundaries are blurred between profit and non-profit. People don’t leap out of the bed in the morning to gain money on the shares.
I listen for pronouns when people describe their company. Do they use “we” or “they”. “We” organizations are high-performing while “they” show alienation with organization.
Can I change my organization? No. One person can’t do it, but it’s wrong question. Should be, “Can I change what I can do tomorrow?” Yes, when we take small steps in our own world that cascade into something bigger.
Anything good in life begins with a conversation. The more conversations, the more we can change things.