Mr. Bosman: what’s my motivation, money?
That’s what most of us believe: the more money you pay someone – a worker, a CEO – the better. In other words, monetary incentives.
Daniel Pink says no, that’s not true. In fact, money may actually make someone less productive. He is the author of the new book, “drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us”.
Welcome to the show.
Mr. DANIEL PINK (author, “drive: the amazing truth about what motivates us”) : madeline, it’s great to be here.
Brand: this is indeed a surprising fact. You call it the Tom Sawyer effect.
Mr. PINK: yes. That’s right.
Brand: this is what you created, named after Tom Sawyer, a fictional character who had to paint some fences in the early part of the book. Somehow, he asked the children to do it for him. How did he do it?
Mr. PINK: he persuaded them that it was interesting. There is a little bit of repetition here, but what the sawyer effect is, increasing autonomy and mastering a otherwise dull task can turn some work into play. In the same way, paying for something they really enjoy can often turn into work.
Brand: so it becomes drudgery – this is…
Mr. PINK: in some ways, yes. There’s a lot of research showing that if you apply an occasional, extrinsic, interesting reward, you can actually eliminate someone’s interest in the activity. There is a famous study, a group of children like to draw, if you bring them in, if you draw, I’ll give you a shiny certificate, the children will draw, then two weeks later, they have no interest in drawing – this intrinsic motivation is very fragile, most of the time these external motivation can suppress it.
Brand: this applies to work.
Mr. PINK: absolutely. Humans have a natural desire for autonomy, some very cool, interesting companies that provide almost complete autonomy for workers. Let me give you a cool example.
Have a Australian company called Atlassian – software company – they every quarter for software developers to do one thing: you can handle anything follow one’s inclinationsly, follow one’s inclinationsly only need to display the results at the end of the 24 hours to the other members of the company.
They call these things fedex days because you have to deliver overnight. The strong autonomy of that day produced a whole suite of software fixes, a range of ideas for new products, and a series of upgrades to existing products.
Brand: but you’re talking about a small group of workers. This is the knowledge-based economy, and the rest is service oriented. It’s a rote work that people have to work at some time.
Mr. PINK: ok.
Brand:… Do something and then leave at some point.
Mr. PINK: ok. In fact, it’s very widespread throughout the workplace. Some of the most interesting examples are the high performance achieved through intrinsic motivation, while autonomy is perceived as a low level of autonomy and skill.
Let’s call center. Call center is a very difficult job. Usually, a call comes in, you listen to the phone, you click on some keys on your computer, it calls a script, you read the script — it’s a very routine job. So, there’s a company called Zappos that has completed the call center in a completely different way. They are for… said
Brand: because this is a shoe company.
Mr. PINK: this is a shoe company.
Mr. PINK: they say their workers solve their customers’ problems in any way you want. They don’t call. They don’t spy on the phone. The delegates had no scripts. Now, that seems crazy in the call center world. Low, Zappos is one of the most well-regarded customer service companies. Many of our businesses assume that, but for a carrot, humans just sit there and don’t do anything, that’s wrong.
I mean, we are motivated and engaged, not passive and inert. In many ways, I think, our background makes us passive and inert. But, if we change the context, I think all of us can evoke the real feeling of, scientifically confirmed autonomous consciousness, and the purpose of, and for the desire of the fun and interesting things.
Brand: Daniel Pink is the author of a new book, “drive: surprising truth.”
Mr. PINK: I’m glad to be here.