Learn, Share, Grow – The Puzzle of Motivation

learn share grow

Below is a video lesson from Daniel Pink’s TED Talks on motivation, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.



Key Learnings:

  • Dan Pink introduces “The Candle Problem”: attaching a candle to a wall with a box of thumbtacks and matches so that it doesn’t drip. 2 groups try to solve the problem – one is told they will be timed to discover norms, while the other uses monetary incentives. This test, consistently proven throughout many tests, shows that the group being given money is slower in solving the problem than the other.
  • Research over 40 years consistently show that for most tasks, contingent motivators often don’t work or do harm.
  • This is one of the most robust findings from social science, but also the most ignored.
  • There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.
  • Extrinsic motivators do, however, work well for “20th century tasks” – with manual work and simple solutions. The reward narrows their focus towards the answer, and pushes them to solve it quicker. But most modern professionals don’t do this kind of work, they do much more complicated tasks with no easy answer.
  • An MIT study found a similar result – for simple mechanistic tasks, a reward improved their performance, but if they required ANY kind of cognitive function, the higher reward decreased performance.
  • Modern psychology is leaning more towards intrinsic motivators – the desire to do more for personal reasons. In the business setting it revolves around:
    • autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
    • mastery – the urge to get better, or develop skills
    • purpose – the need to do what we do for reasons bigger than ourselves.
  • If we get past the simplistic “carrots vs sticks” ideology, and allow people to be more motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose, we can make our businesses stronger and maybe change the world.

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