The Surprising Science of Motivation

A friend emailed me the link to this talk and said that it was definitely worth the 18 minute investment of time. He was right.

I highly recommend this TED talk by Dan Pink. Here’s the key point: “There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does” when it comes to human motivation.

And it is very interesting that, as he touches on at the end, the science of motivation naturally demonstrates the value of some of the more significant emerging workplace practices, such as a results-only-work-environment and 20% time.

(Although I acknowledge that 20% time isn’t necessarily new — it was practiced at 3M more than 50 years ago. Come to think of it, ROWE was also the basic operation of many people before the rise of the modern organization and the concept of an employee — a relatively recent occurrence. It is interesting how what is “new” is often actually “old.”)

(Final note: By pointing out the relatively recent occurrence of the concept of an employee, I am not implying that I think it is a bad concept. I do, however, think that many of the primary early practices for managing employees, which focused on control, were wrong-headed and we are still seeing their effects today. Employees deserve autonomy, not tight controls, and this leads to better results for organizations as well. This will be an interesting course of discussion for future blog posts.)