Can “Drive” itself be a motivator more than money?

A popular myth in business and life is that it is only money that motivates. Consider why you go to learn to play a piano or join a speech club and why you find so many professionals doing more creatively work for others for free when their employer pays them for the same type of work.

End user tools such as Gmail plus backend server tools like Lynx and Apache are some of the world’s highest used technologies. These are examples of things that would have never happened were they not motivated to be created by something other than money.

It may be true that the more money works to get better results when the task being done involves mechanical skills based on a set of rules. Then the more you scale up the pay as the  reward the more likelihood there is for a better result.

However MIT and other studies conclusively find that once a task calls from even rudimentary cognitive skills, the results most often get worse when you use more pay as the incentive to get more results. Profit motive then gets unhinged from purpose and bad things start to happen.

This is discussed in this Royal Society for encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Animate Video – “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

This calls into question that if you reward something you get more of the behavior you want and if you punish something you get less.

The video that is has had extensive viewing since it was published on you Tube in April 2010.

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and the workplace.

It bears no more comment except to say it may the best 10 minutes of essential information you can get to help you understand and pass your next creative leadership challenge.


Here also is the live version of Dan Pink’s RSA talk if you prefer to see him in action.

I wonder what others think?

3 thoughts on “Can “Drive” itself be a motivator more than money?

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