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April 24, 2010


I don't like this versioning metaphor since these aren't 3 separate "products" but rather different approaches which are mixed with each other.

Anyway, I look at motivation and empowerment differently. You start with people. Specific individuals. What you need to do as a leader is to learn what drives these people and create environment where they can get it.

Every now and then I see people who are driven by remuneration and they consider bonus system as a crucial part of motivational system. Others value much freedom at work (which is very short way of describing model you discuss in the post). There are people who value order, which usually means less individual freedom etc. I could count almost endlessly.

I think that a better metaphor for motivational systems would be something like that: version 2.0 was about stiff solutions (you do this, you get that) and version 3.0 is about finding individual solutions crafted for specific persons. But it isn't black or white decision - life is gray and so are motivational solutions.

Hi Pawel,

Thanks for your comment, personally I don’t have a problem with the version number concept, I think it helps identify there are different types of motivational approaches. However I am definitely with you on the idea that they can be blended and should always be individually tailored for each team member. I wrote previously on Verifying Individual Team Member motivators here http://bit.ly/c1oguO and think it is vital to effectively motivate people. I guess when writing a book to popularize an idea it is simpler and more effective to focus on the central concept – with Pink the idea that Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose being more important than if-then rewards. Yet, as you say, people are complex and there are shades of grey, whatever new ideas we come across we need to weave them into what we know already works and tailor them for individuals to be really successful.

Thanks again for your insightful thoughts.

Love Pink's work. However, I've never thought of his motivation recipe as a replacement for empowerment. Rather it appeals to me as a three=pronged method of empowerment.

Hi TheLeaderLab,

Yes, whether empowerment is a subset of autonomy, or autonomy is a subset of empowerment is probably just semantics, they both speak to the same goal of giving more authority to people. I am not sure if Pink’s concepts of mastery and a company purpose are fully captured under empowerment though, again I guess it depends on how much you read into empowerment.

He is actually pretty critical of the term empowerment saying “Indeed, just consider the very notion of “empowerment”. It presumes that the organization has the power and benevolently ladles some of it into the waiting bowls of grateful employees. But that is not autonomy. That’s just a slightly more civilized form of control” P.91 and “Unfortunately, despite sweet-smelling words like “empowerment” that waft through corporate corridors, the modern workplace’s most notable feature may be its lack of engagement and disregard for mastery.”P.111

It was this dislike for a term preached so much in agile that I thought might form an interesting hook for an article. I think we are both on the same page, and looking for ways to give more control to the team. If Pink’s ideas catch on, the term “empowerment” might gather a negative spin and perhaps people will start to use terms like autonomy more?

Anyway, thanks for reading and posting your thoughts.

Best regards

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