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Reinventing the Motivation wheel?

I came a cross this YouTube video titled “Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us”.  It’s adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrating the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.  It’s ten minutes long and there’s some interesting research presented about how “carrot and stick” approaches to motivation don’t work in the knowledge economy.

However, what struck me was that it completely reinforced the theories of good old Maslow and Herzberg.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1954) and Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors and Motivators (1959) say exactly the same thing:

  • There are some job factors that result in satisfaction while there are other job factors that prevent dissatisfaction
  • If you pay people badly, you definitely won’t get good performance – money is a Hygiene Factor and there’s a baseline level required to keep people satisfied
  • If you create an environment where people can learn, grow and make a valued contribution, they will be motivated

Overall, it seemed to me that Dan Pink is simply reinventing Maslow and Herzberg; perhaps presenting their theories in a more modern context, but nevertheless he’s reinventing the wheel!  The “surprising truth about what motivates us” certainly wasn’t a surprise to me!  See what you think…

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