On Thursday, at work, we watched a video that highlighted three important facets of motivation. They are:
We get asked to help customer with motivation. But, we can’t (and don’t) start with the above three. The first thing we usually do is work with our clients to surface, and then challenge, their assumptions. We do this using dialoguing, visual modelling, and the like. The question we are trying so answer in this period is simple: do you believe that people want to be autonomous? And thereafter, do you believe that their autonomy will lead to high levels of motivation? And thereafter, do you think a highly motivated staff will help you to succeed?
This sounds easy, written down like this, but it’s the hardest part of the process and the most likely time of failure. Imagine the conflict that is created by learning that the things you knew - about control, about hierarchy, about financial rewards - was basically wrong. Surfacing, and then overcoming this conflict is the key to organisational change.
It’s only after old assumptions have been surfaced that we can start to think about purpose. Thereafter, we think about autonomy, which we often achieve using self-organising teams. Finally, the system of work needs supporting with a system of coaching. This has numerous benefits, including helping our colleagues with their personal mastery, and therefore their motivation.
Purpose, autonomy and mastery are the foundations of motivation. In order to build a business around them, you have to first believe them. Once the belief is there, you need to work out your greater purpose. From beliefs and purpose, we design structures that allow for mastery and autonomy (and later innovation).
In Other News
In this morning’s newspaper, an interview with Noam Chomsky was published. Chomsky said,
I don't think any individual changes anything alone. Martin Luther King was an important figure but he couldn't have said: ‘This is what I changed.’ He came to prominence on a groundswell that was created by mostly young people acting on the ground.
Edemariam, “Noam Chomsky: ‘No individual changes anything alone’”, The Guardian, accessed on 23/03/2013. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/22/noam-chomsky-no-individual-changes-anything-alone
This is another key to organisational change. No one person changes anything; no one person comes in and says, ‘hey, what are your thoughts on this autonomy and mastery and what-not’. The change agent, if he or she is lucky, simply tap into, and maybe help channel, existing thoughts and ideas. (Often thoughts and ideas that, with a moment’s thought, seem rooted in common sense.)
What, then, does one change agent ever really achieve? I would say, not much. The best we can hope for is to be a part of something wonderful, something bigger than ourselves. Helping as many organisations as possible, starting with our own, tap into the things that make us happy, productive and joyous, is maybe the best any of us can do.