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onsdag 10 november 2010

The surprising truth about what motivates us

All groups chose to discuss "what motivates unpaid peer producers?" at the seminars this week.
You might want to check out this 10-minute YouTube video:


6 kommentarer:

  1. Really interesting video! Because of the huge connection that peer-production in particular and use of social media in general have to human psychology, my first thought upon viewing it was how this fits with the many theories on the subject.

    It's of no surprise that economists believe our main driving force to be money and profit (this was, in fact, one of the main points of entrepreneur Douglas Roos who held a lunch lecture yesterday) but I bet most people don't believe we're that trivial.

    All 3 aspects mentioned in the video (autonomy, mastery, purpose) fit in well with the notion of "will to meaning", that we are driven by a will to find meaning in life, which is something I personally believe plays a part in why we choose to do what we do. However, I believe that self fulfillment might be an even greater part of why we do things.

    For example, I don't believe you pick up the guitar and start "mastering" it simply because it's fun and satisfying but because you get acknowledged for it, and money still doesn't have anything to do with self fulfillment as a driving force.

    My two cents on the subject!

  2. Totally agree with you on the subject. They keep saying that money is the main motivator because they are too used to the industrial economy, where it still applies - you get more pay if you can produce more goods than the your co-worker.
    I also think money is a strong motivator for sales people who get bonuses on their sales, but as soon as you move onto other white collar jobs, money will start to have a significantly smaller role. In most cases you'll still have to get paid enough so that you feel that you're getting what you rightfully deserve, but paying a lot more is not going to make one a better or more motivated worker. The motivation to get better must come from one self.

  3. Hi, but why does money have that contradictory effect on jobs which requires a higher cognitive activity/awareness? Has someone asked that question in this context already? I though it corresponds to social effects. If you are sure about certain aspects of your life (like your mate or wider reach your social environment, self sustainability, offspring etc.) you do lose the main motivator for life: fear. I think that purpose itself is hardly the prime motivator. But it can play a essential role in life when other needs are satisfied. This makes me think of an proposal from the ceo of "DM drogeriemarkt" in Germany. He proposed to pay every citizen one thousand € to eliminate a bulk part of fear everyone has to face in life.

  4. Perhaps purpose isn't the prime motivator in work but I personally think it might have a lot to do with autonomy and what they in the video call mastery, which they state might actually have an impact on work. It's always interesting to look at how concepts of life rooted in human evolution might affect us in our modern society (which we aren't exactly perfectly adapted for), and I agree that there's something complex going on, speaking to the more emotional, as opposed to reasonable, side of our consciousness. I'm not sure if I'd call it fear in all cases mentioned but I get your point.

  5. Though I generally agree with what's said in the video (and it's a nice one! though I've read these arguments before), I think we should take that with a bit of caution.

    As Kaupo pointed out, you should get paid what you think you deserve. Now, this is not a trivial question because you are not alone on the market. Of course, the first requirement is that what you get paid can sustain your lifestyle. But even when that's achieved, maybe it won't be enough. You may feel that you're as good as some other people and hence should be paid as much as them, or that you're better than somebody who's paid the same as you and should be above him. Lunkan_90 underlines that you play the guitar because you want to be acknowledged for it; well, what I am saying is that money is a very concrete way of showing acknowledgement.

    There's a (pastiche) power law in my field (computer science/programming) that says "99% of programmers think they're better than 99% of programmers". In terms of rewards, that means 99% of programmers think they deserve better than 99% of programmers. Of course, there are other forms of recognition, but what I am saying is that, as a company, your best bet is still to be the top payer if you want the top people (without going into the realm of rockstar programmers, which is driven by different metrics), because most other factors are undecidable prior to actually doing the job.

    And you could put it the other way round: if I know that all the top companies can offer me very satisfying working conditions and various other benefits, and oftentimes they do, what is it that will motivate me to work for one or the other? Might as well be the pay, after all...

  6. OK, this is maybe far fetched but I had to think of it after reading the last two comments:
    This is an article about how pre-natal exposure to testosterone can effect affinity to technology. They tested recently computer science students which achieved significantly better results, having been pre-natally exposed to higher dose of testosterone. This corresponds with your, nhatminhle, "notion" of "pretentious" programmers. And it also corresponds to the notion that "concepts of life" are deeply rooted and affect modern society. :) Sure, nobody would argue with that statement, but what if some modern society concepts, like motivation regarding money in a capitalistic society, are not realized as such. What if "the alpha male concept" dictates motivation as such. Being dictated by a supervisor will not make you feel like an alpha. Hope you getting my point. I can think of many examples applying this though. ... This is better put in Sigmund Freud's words: Sublimated alpha concept. Maybe the key is to let this energy flow instead of blocking it, like in a standard employer-employee relationship.