Intrinsic Motivators: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Do Wonders For Business

Look at the science of human motivation, particularly the dynamics of extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators.  If you look at the science, there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

In 21st century tasks, mechanistic, reward-and-punishment approach doesn’t work, often doesn’t work, and often does harm.

Think about your own work. Think about your own work. Are the problems that you face, or even the problems we’ve been talking about here, are those kinds of problems — do they have a clear set of rules, and a single solution? No. The rules are mystifying.

The solution, if it exists at all, is surprising and not obvious. Everybody in this room is dealing with their own version of the candle problem. And for candle problems of any kind, in any field, those if-then rewards, the things around which we’ve built so many of our businesses, don’t work.

It is intrinsic motivation- around the desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they’re interesting, because they are part of something important- that works.

The new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives.

Mastery: the desire 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. These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses.

There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. And here is what science knows.

One: Those 20th century rewards, those motivators we think are a natural part of business, do work, but only in a surprisingly narrow band of circumstances.

Two: Those if-then rewards often destroy creativity.

Three: The secret to high performance isn’t rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive — the drive to do things for their own sake. The drive to do things cause they matter.

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation. Watch the video snippet to understand the value of intrinsic motivation:

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