Ben Tsai

The Surprising Science of Motivation

In my last post, I mentioned that autonomy is a powerful motivator. I highly recommend watching this TED talk by Dan Pink where he explains how 20th century methods of reward are irrelevant and even detrimental in our 21st century world.


One common theme that keeps emerging from my research on side projects is the importance of the culture. The success or failure of this kind of policy, where the goal is innovation through creative experimentation, will depend the people doing the innovating, and not on the structure. So how do we motivate such people?

Dan Pink outlines three key motivators in his talk—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—while downplaying and discouraging extrinsic rewards, such as money. I see having a side projects policy as demonstrating this understanding of intrinsic reward, and also taking one step towards providing our engineers with these appropriate rewards.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011