Leadership Summit 2010 | Daniel Pink – What Motivates Us: Not What You Think

Posted on August 5, 2010


“Effective organizations compensate people in amounts and in ways that allow individuals to forget mostly about compensation—and instead, focus on the work itself.”


RESOURCE: Drive | Notes & Review – VIAlogue.wordpress.com
RESOURCE: Daniel Pink Amazon Page
RESOURCE: http://www.danpink.com/

Are you hungry? Motivation 1.0: Biological Drives.
Would you get paid to deliver these snacks? Motivation 2.0 Punishments and Rewards.
What do you want to accomplish? Motivation 3.0: Intrinsic.

We always make the wrong assumptions about people. And if you make the wrong assumptions, then everything doesn’t work.

The nefarious assumptions that…

  1. Human beings are machines. Complicated machines, but basically mechanistic. If we press the right leverage in the right way, then they’ll respond in the way you want them to.
  2. Human beings are blobs. Basically passive and inert. If I don’t threaten them with sticks or entice them with carrots, they would sit there and do nothing.

NOT TRUE. I think this is the wrong theory of human nature. Our nature is not to be passive and inert, but rather active and engaged. I believe that, because I have kids. I defy you to find me a 2-year-old or a 4-year-old who is not active and engaged. That is our “default” setting. Now, our experiences rewire our programming to be passive and inert, but that is not our nature.

Get rid of those two assumptions, and it takes you in far more promising assumptions.

Three key elements for enduring motivation.

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose


Gary Hamel said it well, “Management is a technology,” from the 1850s. How many technologies do we use from the 1850s?! Management is a technology designed to get compliance.

BUT, we don’t want compliance. We want engagement/autonomy. And management fundamentally does not lead to engagement. Self-direction leads to engagement. We ought to strive to let people have autonomy over their time, team, task, technique.

How do you bring this into a church? Go slow. Build “scaffolding.”

Change is not an on/off switch, it’s a dimmer switch.

Don’t jump right in, ease in the 20% time with training time. Maybe start with 10% time. That’s one afternoon a week. Who among us has ever squandered an afternoon a week?


Making progress is inherently motivating. “Flow” are those moments when we are unaware of our surroundings and of time. We’re “in the moment.” Studies show that we’re more likely to have those moments at work than at leisure, because that’s when we’re active and engaged.

In my estimation, performance reviews are more like kabuki theater, highly stylized, follows a script, and everyone can’t wait until it’s over.

Athletes, coaches, musicians, small entrepreneurs are doing this already, regular feedback.


I think there is a palpable sense that a page is turning, and we’re seeing the limits of the profit motive. Profits are a good thing, but it’s not the only thing.

I believe that any great things in life begins with a conversation. Things can change. The cascades of conversations you’re having and this collective force who want to tap that third drive is the sort of thing that changes the world.

— VIA —

Two responses. First, “Brilliant.” Second, “Duh!”