Motivation

Posted: 31/05/2010 in Un poco de todo

Too many people hold a very narrow view of what motivates us. They believe that the only way to get us moving is with the jab of a stick or the promise of a carrot. But if you look at over 50 years of research on motivation, or simply scrutinize your own behavior, it’s pretty clear human beings are more complicated than that.

We have a biological drive. We eat when we’re hungry, drink when we’re thirsty, have sex to satisfy our carnal urges. We also have a second drive—we respond to rewards and punishments in our environment. But what we’ve forgotten—and what the science shows—is that we also have a third drive. We do things because they’re interesting, because they’re engaging, because they’re the right things to do, because they contribute to the world. The problem is that, especially in our organizations, we stop at that second drive. We think the only reason people do productive things is to snag a carrot or avoid a stick. But that’s just not true. Our third drive—our intrinsic motivation—can be even more powerful.

Behavior is motivation filtered through opportunity. So if you see people behaving in new ways, it’s very unlikely that their motivations have changed, because human nature doesn’t change that quickly. It’s quite likely that the opportunities have changed.

Think about open source software in general—whether it’s Linux or Apache. Suppose I’d gone to an economist or management consultant 25 years ago and said, “I’ve got a cool new business model for making software. Here’s how it works: A bunch of intrinsically motivated people around the world get together to do technically sophisticated stuff for no pay. And then after working really hard, they give away their product for free. Trust me: It’s going to be huge.

Daniel Pink & Clay Shirky

[Bad faith]

If you assume bad faith from the average paerson, you’ll probably get it. In social media, the design principle that has worked remarkably well is to treat good faith as the normal case and to regard defections from that as essentially a special case to be solved.  Same goes with organizations. We don’t realize how much our unexamined assumptions take us to radically different places. If I’m running an organization and my starting premise about human beings is that people are fundamentally passive and inert, that they won’t do a damn thing unless I threaten them with a stick or entice them with a carrot, that takes me down one road. But I think that’s the wrong premise, the wrong theory of human nature

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