Daniel Pink's Elements of Motivation: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

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New Theories of Motivation

You’ll have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy, Hertzberg’s Dual-Factor theory and McClelland’s Achievement theory when it comes to motivation, but one new idea stands out among the rest because it epitomises the very real concept of intrinsic motivation within all of us. Daniel Pink argues that there are three main elements of internal motivation, which he calls ‘Autonomy’, ‘Mastery’ and ‘Purpose’. These may seem pretty much common sense, but many managers forget how internal drive to motivation may be. Pink’s ideas may well identify why external motivators don’t work effectively all the time. Let’s take a look at the three ideas and see if we can marry up why they are so important: Firstly, Autonomy

Our default-setting, say, Pink, is to be autonomous and self-directed. Most management today conspires to change this setting from intrinsic to extrinsic motivation. To encourage intrinsic motivation, autonomy is the first requirement. People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it). Then, there’s Mastery

While external motivation techniques require compliance, Pink says that the latest motivation requires engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery, becoming better at something that matters. Mastery isn’t just the ability to be able to do things well; it revolves around being able to carry out optimal experiences where the challenges we face help us to grow and stretch our capabilities. Smart organisations supplement day-to-day tasks with stretching tasks, not too hard but not too easy. There are three elements to this drive to Mastery: It is a ‘mind-set’ – it requires the capacity to see the abilities you possess as infinitely improvable. It is a ‘stretch’ – it demands effort and deliberate practice....
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