The first time I saw the RSA Animate video on motivation, I was impressed and fascinated. This was the first video I had ever seen done in this style. I was absolutely transfixed for the whole ten minutes, riveted by the literal ‘illustration’ of ideas. The combination of a well-delivered speech with excellent contextual visual representation blew me away.
It seems that motivation is a more complicated phenomenon than implied by the proverbial carrot and stick analogy. On a side note, it pleases me to no end that there is a Wikipedia article for the carrot and stick. It seems that the simplistic idea of increased incentives leading to better performance only works with certainty in those cases where the task requires only mechanical ability. Once deeper thought or consideration is necessary to perform the task, incentives work differently.
This video goes through some very interesting research on the subject of performance incentives. From this scaffold, they then launch into a discussion of what incentives make highly-skilled, non-mechanical, and deeply creative work more productive. Contrary to expectations, it seems that increasing the size of reward for good performance is not the most effective incentive for better performance in these cases.
My favorite section is the discussion of autonomy, mastery, and purpose near the end. These are presented as the foundational principles for contribution and happiness. We like to be free, get better at things, and believe that there is meaning in what we do. I believe that RSA Animate has hit the nail squarely on the head. In my opinion, this section of the talk is masterfully executed in addition to being very true.
I give this video a strong blanket recommendation. I believe that watching this video may be among the most worthwhile ways you could spend the next ten minutes. 😉 All of the people that I have personally shown this to so far have enjoyed it a lot. I believe that this is a strong indication of the quality of the video, but I suppose it is also a commentary on the type of people that my friends are.