This post was originally just going to be a link to a video. Then I started doing some more research and some more digging and this post is what I’ve come up with. I think this is a testament to the magnitude of the idea I’m going to be passing on. Thus, whatever you are doing, stop now and pay attention.
“There’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.” – Dan Pink
Dan Pink will describe in 10 short minutes (along with an awesome animation) the truth about what actually motivates us. Surprisingly (or not), money is not what motivates us (generally speaking). Instead, the three factors that lead to better performance & personal satisfaction are:
Not only that, but we have the research1 and data2 to back this up.
The following animation is adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA3:
Note: you may need to click through if you can’t see the video above.
As much as like doing what I do, I also feel like I’m being stifled, especially as a result of old-fashioned nine-to-five, carrot-and-stick incentives. Thus, when I think about wanting to work at a small company, it’s not because I don’t like people or want to work with fewer people, it’s because there is more freedom to do what I want, more freedom to explore, to freedom to innovate, and that’s what I want.
To be clear, this isn’t about working less, it’s about working best. If I can get done in six hours what you think should take eight hours, why can’t I go home early? Am I being paid to be available to solve problems or to actually solve problems? Work that requires even marginal amount of thinking should5 be Results-Only Work Environments, not Presenteeism Work Environments.
All the money in the world can’t buy happiness and I’d rather being making $10k (or whatever) less and truly enjoy what I do; and this is the problem.
Currency for motivation is becoming more intangible. … [A] fun/surprising reward can be more motivating than a functional cash incentive or discount. A competitive, peer interaction and temporal element drives motivation. Case in point look at how 4Square drives engagement.
I think the current generation of engineers6 gets this idea. We aren’t as tied to money as we are tied to autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I like purpose, it makes me feel like I’ve actually done something useful. And I like mastery, because I’m sort of anal like that. And I like autonomy, because I’ve found ways of doing things that work really, really well for me and get the job done. And money can’t buy any of that.
I see this at play in my own life in literally everything outside of work (i.e. my seven-to-three job): writing plugins for WordPress, running a triathlon, leading a Bible study, taking photographs. These are the things that make me happy. Engineering makes me happy too, but not as much as I think it could; which I believe has to do with the current method that I practice it.
Why Intelligent People Fail
Content from Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt Brace.
Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance.
“A long history of research has demonstrated that rewards can decrease motivation and attitudes (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959), alter self-perception (Bem, 1965), increase overjustification (Lepper et al., 1973), and turn feelings of competence into feelings of being controlled (Deci & Ryan, 1985).” Source: Effort for Payment: A Tale of Two Markets↩
Ignite Seattle 10 is coming up just around the corner on June 14th, so mark your calendars. They had a call for submissions and I thought, “What the heck. But what to present on? It needs to be funny, but also relevant. And not a shill for some product.”
I submitted my topic suggestion with the following description:
I am a nerd, and I am an engineer.
How do I know this? Because I was drawing schematics of Star Trek related devices when I was in 5th grade, I ran my own web server from my home when I was in 9th grade, and, most importantly, I just (well, a year ago) graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a BS in Engineering, Specialty in Electrical Systems, Area of Special Interest in Mechanical Systems.
Now, I work for an aerodefensespace1 corporation, as an engineer.
And I’m dating a beautiful woman; actually, that’s not quite true.
But I have learned a lot about being an enginerd and being able to talk to women. And have them talk to me.
So, just because I haven’t found the “love of my life,” the Deanna Troi to my Will Riker, doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from what I’ve learned.
It’s a shoe-in to win, right? Not quite. Unfortunately, I was not selected for the round of Ignite talks (they had a record number of entries). So you’ll have to wait for now.2
The youth pastor at my home church has a son, Ben, who was diagnosed with a Neuroblastoma almost two months ago. He’s only two years old. It’s sometime been difficult to be so far away from them; not that I could do anything, but I still feel helpless.
Yesterday, Ben began his third round of chemotherapy treatment with a drug called Cisplatin(cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II)).
Ben’s Mom writes in their blog:
While this drug has proven in the past few years to be an extremely important drug in treating NB [Neuroblastoma], it will most likely damage his hearing. 3/4 of all NB kids will suffer hearing loss – the extent to which varies depending on the child. We have been told that the “best case scenario” would be just the loss of high frequency pitches but we won’t know for another six months (approximately) what the ultimate damage has been.