Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Ever wonder why the majority of the people who work at supposed "Executive" levels (mostly in large corporation environments) often seem like they aren't really doing anything, much less know what's really going on in the company?  We often see them just sitting at their desks, perhaps talking on the phone whilst enjoying the best view in the house, or as Jason Fried, co-Founder of 37 signals once said, "Managers and Directors just like to call meetings all day because they have nothing better to do."  And yet, everyone scattered below the corporate ladder, tends to work much harder than these so called "Executives" --who take all the credit for the company's success and not to mention profits.

(Video and breakdown after the jump).

American writer Dan Pink, author of New York Times best sellers such as A Whole New Mind: Free Agent Nation and his latest, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us explained at his recent RSA talk (see video below) the following points about how profit motivators work and how purpose motivators are way underrated:

  • Monetary motivation (more pay, for more work) is only an effective reward system when applied to labor intensive skill workers
  • The opposite is true for cognitive skill workers, even at a rudimentary level: paying someone more money to utilize more of their "thinking caps," is in fact futile.  This, according to studies done at MIT, University of Chicago, and Carnegie Melon.
  • However, it remains to be true:  When you don't pay people enough money for their work they will also lack motivation.
  • Humans can't be treated like animals when we want them to be more productive:  Humans seek purpose in what they do.
  • Three key motivators: Autonomy (Self Direction), Mastery (Challenge), and Purpose (Contribution for the good of society)
Dan Pink is also a contributing writer for the likes of the NYTimes, Harvard Business Review, and Wired.  He graduated from Yale Law School, but has never practiced law. 

Dan Pink's Talk at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts)


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