Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation

Dan Pink, at TED Global in July 2009, broke tasks, performance and rewards for performance into two groups. With complex problems, financial rewards do not impact performance and seem to dull creativity. Actually, they seem to deter performance. With a simple problem and a simple set of rules, then contingent motivations for performance (like financial rewards) are very effective.

He comes to three conclusions:

  1. The twentieth century rewards that we think are part of business do work, but only in a surprisingly narrow band of circumstances.
  2. “If, then” rewards often destroy creativity.
  3. The secret to high performance is not rewards and punishments, but that a drive to do things because they matter.

There are some great lessons for compliance and corporate governance in the presentation. He explains it much better than I can. Take the 19 minutes to watch the video.

I have his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us on my reading list. After watching this video, I have moved it higher up in the queue.

Thanks to Jack Vinson of Knowledge Jolt with Jack for pointing out this video: What is the right culture for your organization?

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One Response to Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation

  1. Brian Gryth February 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm #


    You should also read Pink’s a “Whole New Mind”. (If you haven’t already). It change the way I looked at my career and place in the world.