Intrinsic Motivation, Ctd: Self Direction vs. Compliance


In his 2009 presentation for Ted.com, Dan Pink says that the secret to making workers’ best ideas come forth is to give them autonomy.

In one example, Pink asks us to consider Encarta versus Wikipedia. When Microsoft set out to compose the Internet dictionary Encarta in 1993, the company enlisted battalions of writers, editors, and researchers to do it the “right” way. Pink points out that no economist in the early 90s would have predicted that the “do it because you like to do it” model used by Wikipedia would have won out over Microsoft’s best-laid-plan. And yet how often do you call up Encarta to find a definition, biography, or history?

“Intrinsic motivation wins in a knock out,” Pink says. “The secret to high performance is the drive to do things for your own sake.” This is what will strengthen our businesses in the future.

Corporations are discovering more and more ways to provide valued workers with the kind of innovation-inducing autonomy Pink highlights. One of these is workplace flexibility.

Here’s the entire talk. It’s well worth a look.