Review: The Meaning of the Dark – Novel by Joseph Sale
Lowest Motivators that Can Trip You UP

Emotions, Risk, Change, Feel, Think and Know: geddit?


In my third blog based on, Mapping Motivation, from Routledge ( I'd like to look at one fascinating aspect of Chapter 3. The nine-point summary at the end of the chapter says:

"Speed of decision-making, attitude to risk, and desire for change are also aligned with the nine motivators - as are our orientation to people, things and ideas".  [from Chapter Three of Mapping Motivation: James Sale, Routledge, [ ]

I need to spell this out in more detail, because it is quite staggering what I am saying; and then having spelt it out I'll add some more detail.

We talk about the Motivational Maps ‘making the invisible visible’, by which we mean that like emotions themselves, our motivators are invisible to us most of the time. In some way we mostly feel them operating in the background and rarely draw our awareness to the foreground where we see them clearly. In that sense our motivators are like a fan operating on a hot day: we are glad of the coolness but pay no attention to – hardly notice even - the persistent humming of the blades. But emotions are not like thoughts; they are much more powerful than that; they literally drive us. But just as thoughts – ideas – can be connected, so emotions are connected (or perhaps more strongly, intertwined), not only with each other, but also with other aspects of our lives that we consider vital.

So, in the first instance, and given the quotation from the book, we realise that when we start mapping motivation, then we are also mapping our attitude to risk, whether that be risk-aversion or risk-friendliness. That’s significant, isn’t it? Hey, the whole financial service industry, for one area alone, has now to note what the clients’ attitude to risk is before one can professionally advise them on relevant investments. They tell you what they ‘think’ their attitude is, and based on their thoughts, the IFA, or whoever, advises them. But as we often say in Maps, what we think is often not what we feel. The Maps actually can tell you with great certainty what the client feels about risk. And that’s not just important for financial services: it’s important for every employer to know about every employee, given the context of certain roles. Would too much risk-friendliness create risks and liabilities for the company? Or, would too much risk-aversion lead to underachievement in certain contexts? Can you see how important this issue is?

And no less important is the issue of change; for just as Motivational Maps measure risk, they also calculate attitudes to change. This is vital in all team and organisational initiatives: it means that where we have large change programmes but we know – because we have done the Maps – that the employees are change-averse, or even strongly change –averse, then more resources must be deployed if we are to stand any chance of getting a result from the change process.

If we add to risk and change, the fact that the Maps also measure speed of decision-making too: wow! Isn’t that something? And if it seems almost too much, consider this: of course it will measure speed of decision-making because there must be a direct correlation between being, say, risk or change averse and making a decision. The risk-averse will be slow to make a decision because they will, first, want to defer it, and secondly, they will want to be more sure, and that requires more evidence.

 Then there is the question of ‘orientation’. Now keep in mind that most people are a blend of motivators, and this can be especially true of the top 3 motivators: we can find a mix of all three types of Relationship, Achievement and Growth motivators. But where we find a strong dominance of one type, then we also find an ‘orientation’. So, for example, it should be no surprise to find that Relationship type motivators (and motivators change over time so there is no stereotyping here) are people-orientated. This means not only is their interest in other people and their relationship to them, but that their communications too will primarily be about ‘people’. This can be positively in seeing the best in people and supporting them, or it can be negative: critical – projecting and blaming. Whereas if we consider the Achievement motivators we find that talking about people is much less important: results and ‘things’ are important. There will be much more emphasis on the material side of life and how things work, technically. Finally, at the top end of the hierarchy the Growth motivators. Here people like talking about not other people, not things, but ideas. Ideas have an exciting and visionary quality for the Growth motivator types and you hear it in their conversation.

Now all of this is an awful lot to get one from one little Motivational Map. But I said there was more, which the chapter explores further! This is learning styles. We are all familiar with the Kolb learning styles, probably the best known example of this kind of analysis; we all have preferred ways of wanting to learn. In Kolb there are 4 types of learners; in Maps there are 3. And these three are often associated with the phrase Think-Feel-Know, or as we call it: Feel-Think-Know. For us it is important that the order follows the three power centres of the body: Feel, the heart, Think, the head, and Know, the gut or Dan Tien (in Chinese medicine). In practical terms if we know someone’s Map we can be sure then that we know the best way to present data to them. So, in brief: if we are dealing with a predominantly Relationship person or team, then we need to ensure that there are plenty of examples, descriptions, stories and anecdotes; if we are dealing with a predominantly Achievement person or team, then we need to ensure that there is plenty of hard data, information, evidence and statistics; and if we are dealing with a predominantly Growth person or team, then we need to ensure that there are plenty of bullet points, simple facts, and summaries.

I am sure you will agree that this is a very rich cocktail of information to find out any one person or team, or indeed a whole organisation. If you want to learn more about it, read chapter 3 of my book – there’s a lot more there. This is all about getting on top of a whole load of ‘ambiguous’ information; or heretofore ambiguous – now the Maps put some numbers around this and draw these concepts into the light. We are entering a new age of understanding people, teams and organisations through Motivational Maps.


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