Daniel Pink’s new book, Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates
us, is a cracking read, a brilliant source book for research on motivation, and
an essential companion for all managers and directors of organisations who wish
to tackle – actually tackle – the issue of how we motivate staff. If you want
to know more about motivation and ways to tackle it, this is a good starting
That said, I don’t completely agree with 10% of his interpretation of
motivational reality. Let me explain. He has created a model, which is
simultaneously evolutionary and digital. We have Motivation 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0
and are told we need to upgrade our model – the analogy being with software.
This seems confusing to me – how do we do that? How do we upgrade our software?
We learn that humans in that familiar place – the Savannah sometime in
the distant past – operated on a Motivation 1.0 model, which was all about
surviving – eating, drinking, sex and all that primary stuff. Then, the machine
world came in and we upgraded to Motivation 2.0, the carrot and stick
philosophy with which we are all familiar. This in the Twenty First Century
isn’t up to the job, makes us less effective, and we need to ‘upgrade’ to
Motivation 3.0, which is where our intrinsic motivators reside.
I would dispute the whole concept of an upgrade; the motivators have all
been with us from the beginning, including on the Savannah. Certainly, motivators change, and
our environment can have a huge impact on which motivators predominate, but all
the motivators are there, and always have been. A better way to look at this is
by considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These needs are motivators because
at the apex of the hierarchy – or triangle – they are not simple ‘needs’ at
all: the need for meaning isn’t a need in the same way that the need for food
is, although, of course, the lack of either can kill us. But whereas the lack
of food will always kill every one of us, lack of meaning doesn’t always seem
to kill everybody; there are people who seem content with - what appears -
perfectly meaningless lives: some of the greatest playwrights of the Twentieth
Century have written extensively about them – Beckett, Pinter, et al.
What I am saying, then, is that whilst I absolutely agree with Pink on
the issue of the importance of ‘intrinsic’ motivators, this is not about an
upgrade or an evolution, and a series of tools. The intrinsic motivators are,
in my view, the self-actualising components of Maslow’s hierarchy – which Pink
identifies as Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Again, I think this is almost
right, but not quite.
Motivation 1.0 is the bottom of the Maslow hierarchy, but what Pink has
failed to realise is how it is core – and a default position under stress – and
further how its characteristics as motivators are not about surviving, eating
and having sex. Its characteristic is Relationship driven. The reason for the
Motivation 1.0 model being Relationship driven is simple: that survival that we
practised on the Savannah
was an achievement we never earned ourselves – to survive we learnt at our
deepest level that we need a Relationship. No baby can save itself – it learns
to rely. So security, belonging, recognition are the deepest motivators we
have, and they are part of Motivation 1.0 and most people have not progressed
beyond them. There is an important sense in which they are still highly valid –
and this is not apparent in the argument that Pink proposes.
In my next blog I am going to investigate further aspect of Pink’s
Motivation 2.0 and 3.0 and how it coincides with Motivational Maps – and how it