The puzzle of motivation | Dan Pink | TED

TED

TED

18 min, 37 sec

A deep dive into how traditional incentives like rewards and punishments can sometimes hinder performance and creativity, suggesting a new approach based on intrinsic motivation.

Summary

  • The speaker confesses to regretting attending law school, humorously revealing his poor academic performance and lack of a legal career.
  • Introducing the 'candle problem' to demonstrate functional fixedness and how traditional 'if-then' rewards can impede creative problem-solving.
  • Cites studies showing that for tasks requiring cognitive skills, larger rewards often lead to poorer performance, contrary to common business practices.
  • Presents autonomy, mastery, and purpose as key components of intrinsic motivation, which can drive high performance in today's creative and conceptual work.
  • Provides real-world examples of companies that have successfully implemented practices promoting autonomy, leading to increased productivity and satisfaction.

Chapter 1

Confession and Law School Anecdote

0:13 - 1 min, 3 sec

The speaker begins with a humorous confession about attending law school and his subsequent lack of success in the legal profession.

The speaker begins with a humorous confession about attending law school and his subsequent lack of success in the legal profession.

  • The speaker expresses regret over an unnamed past action, building up curiosity.
  • Reveals the humorous 'youthful indiscretion' of attending law school and performing poorly.

Chapter 2

Introduction to the Candle Problem

1:47 - 1 min, 12 sec

The speaker introduces the candle problem to illustrate the effect of traditional rewards on problem-solving.

The speaker introduces the candle problem to illustrate the effect of traditional rewards on problem-solving.

  • Describes the candle problem, an experiment that challenges participants to attach a candle to a wall without dripping wax on the table.
  • Explains that the problem requires overcoming functional fixedness to view the box not just as a receptacle for tacks but as a platform for the candle.

Chapter 3

Glucksberg's Candle Problem Experiment

3:00 - 1 min, 48 sec

The speaker discusses Glucksberg's experiment with the candle problem to demonstrate the impact of incentives on performance.

The speaker discusses Glucksberg's experiment with the candle problem to demonstrate the impact of incentives on performance.

  • Sam Glucksberg's experiment showed that people incentivized with cash rewards took longer to solve the candle problem than those who were not.
  • The experiment suggests that while incentives can narrow focus and work well for simple tasks, they can hinder creative problem-solving.

Chapter 4

Contrasting Incentives and Creativity

4:48 - 1 min, 3 sec

The speaker emphasizes how traditional incentives can negatively impact performance in tasks requiring creativity.

The speaker emphasizes how traditional incentives can negatively impact performance in tasks requiring creativity.

  • Points out that while traditional motivators can be effective for simple, rule-based tasks, they often fail or cause harm for complex tasks.
  • Highlights that this is a well-established finding in social science, yet it is largely ignored in business practices.

Chapter 5

Intrinsic Motivation and Business Practices

5:51 - 1 min, 8 sec

The speaker delves into intrinsic motivation and its misalignment with current business practices.

The speaker delves into intrinsic motivation and its misalignment with current business practices.

  • Explains the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and how intrinsic motivation is often more effective for modern work.
  • Criticizes businesses for relying on outdated, unexamined assumptions that stem more from folklore than science.

Chapter 6

Empirical Evidence Against Traditional Incentives

6:59 - 1 min, 42 sec

The speaker presents empirical studies that challenge the effectiveness of traditional incentive structures.

The speaker presents empirical studies that challenge the effectiveness of traditional incentive structures.

  • References studies by Dan Ariely and others that show higher incentives can lead to worse performance in tasks requiring cognitive skills.
  • Mentions research sponsored by the Federal Reserve and studies from the London School of Economics supporting the ineffectiveness of pay-for-performance plans.

Chapter 7

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

8:41 - 2 min, 3 sec

The speaker introduces autonomy, mastery, and purpose as key components of a new approach to motivation in business.

The speaker introduces autonomy, mastery, and purpose as key components of a new approach to motivation in business.

  • Defines autonomy, mastery, and purpose as essential for intrinsic motivation and high performance in the 21st century.
  • Argues that management should focus on engagement rather than compliance, and provides examples of companies successfully implementing autonomy.

Chapter 8

Case Studies of Autonomy in Practice

10:45 - 5 min, 12 sec

The speaker provides examples of companies that have implemented autonomy to great success, boosting productivity and job satisfaction.

The speaker provides examples of companies that have implemented autonomy to great success, boosting productivity and job satisfaction.

  • Describes Atlassian's FedEx Days and Google's 20% time as innovative approaches that allow engineers to work on projects of their choice, leading to significant product developments.
  • Introduces the Results Only Work Environment, where employees have full control over their work schedules and methods.

Chapter 9

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation: The Wikipedia Example

15:57 - 1 min, 31 sec

Using Encarta and Wikipedia as examples, the speaker illustrates the triumph of intrinsic motivation over traditional incentive models.

Using Encarta and Wikipedia as examples, the speaker illustrates the triumph of intrinsic motivation over traditional incentive models.

  • Compares Microsoft's Encarta, which used paid professionals and managers, with Wikipedia, which relies solely on volunteer contributions.
  • Highlights Wikipedia's success over Encarta as evidence that intrinsic motivators such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose can lead to outstanding outcomes.

Chapter 10

Concluding Thoughts on Motivation

17:28 - 59 sec

The speaker concludes by summarizing the science behind motivation and its implications for business and societal progress.

The speaker concludes by summarizing the science behind motivation and its implications for business and societal progress.

  • Summarizes the science of human motivation, noting that traditional rewards are effective in narrow circumstances but can destroy creativity.
  • Advocates for a shift to intrinsic motivation in business, emphasizing that this aligns with what we intuitively know to be true.
  • Calls for a new business operating system based on autonomy, mastery, and purpose to achieve high performance and address complex challenges.

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