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« #Management Fatique = Employee Disengagement | Main | Where in the World is Lisa - Upcoming Travels, Let's Work Together »

January 27, 2010


Lisa, this is great! I must first admit that I have not read either of these books, but I teach motivation concepts to MBA students every semester. Like it or not, reinforcement DOES work, it can shape behavior, but it always has unintended consequences. Because it works, it should not be ignored. But the BEST route is the intrinsic route. The problem is knowing that is works is one thing, understanding HOW to make it work with each individual employee is a much bigger elephant. Ultimately, I still believe motivation is an attribution, and explanation for why you think someone behaves or does not behave in certain ways. Behavior is MY responsibility, not my manager's, so only I can really motivate myself.

Bret - great points, thanks for chiming in. And I think it would be a great "debate" to share with your students and might make for a very lively and helpful discussion.

I'm with you (and Pink). I read his book January 3-5 and it may be the best book I read in 2010. Although Linchpin may give him a run for his money.

David: I think it is always a good time to nudge the conversation forward, and I think Drive does that well. Seth's work often does that very well, too. I guess the best books do that, but many don't!

I wish all senior leaders would read Drive and then discuss what it means with their team (and HR leader).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Is it possible that Pink and Daniels are both right? Maybe their are writing about different facets of motivation and inspiration. I think of motivation as coming from within and Pink is helping us understand that this is individual, unique and "sacred". Inspiration could be viewed as coming from others and could be seen as our response to being "connected" to our leaders through their affirmation and reinforcement.

A great leader would be someone who recognizes and utilizes both authentically and skillfully. So maybe they both have a facet of the truth and we need to learn to value and practice both approaches to serving others,

Ron - I agree that inspiration is a wonderful thing and great managers and leaders ought to inspire. Inspiration and reinforcement are not really the same things, though, right?

The only downside to the "do both" approach - but it could be a big one - is that a focus on extrinsic motivation can wreck or reduce intrinsic motivation.

Studies have shown the progress is a very powerful motivator.

Scrum does this very well with the recommended burn down tracking chart. Shows progress every day - make it visible to all. Stimulates the intrinsic reward system in humans - ah the power of dopamine.

See my blog post for a link the the Harvard Business Review article on 'What really motivates workers'.

A post to my post.
You said in response to my blog that you think that "the specifics we each recommend would be quite different, however (as related to motivation)." I don't know about that but the effectiveness of what we each might do is an empirical question. Science would seek to know which was better at producing the desired outcomes. As a behavior analyst, I am always interested in subjecting my opinions and ideas to that kind of validation.

Aubrey - thanks for the comment. I would agree that measuring effectiveness is of value as long as what we measure is what matter's most. Are we measuring compliance? Results? Engagement? Innovation? Task completion? I think this is an important question. All measures are not the same. If you tell me that positive reinforcement will improve the liklihood that tasks X, Y, and Z will be done with a high level of complaince (maybe not as quickly or well or with greatest amount of innovation or process improvement, I doubt your measures tell me this), that is information. But what is it really telling us? I think testing effectiveness is a good practice but one that needs to take into account what's most important (in terms of how excellence if defined).

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