This is a citizen contribution by Benny Pettersson.
Protect them from vague, obscured, disparate goals and directives and focus your energy on providing them with clarity, goals, purpose and intended effects to reach.Benny Pettersson
So, why does Cortex City work?
A bunch of volunteers, doing a lot of stuff on their free time … for nothing?
Daniel Pink has revealed the secret facts behind drive, and what motivates people. It is quite simple, but extremely powerful, proven by a lot of open source projects and maybe also Cortex City itself. We will see.
So, what drives people to contribute in Cortex City? It’s not because someone pays anyone here a big bag of money (I guess), it’s not because someone is dictating or telling us to do it, and it’s not because someone says our efforts are the right ones.
Daniel summarizes the secrets to motivation and drive in three words:
Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Let me explain how I interpret them and some of the learning I’ve experienced that supports this.
Autonomy is when you or your team can decide how to do something or even what to do – for yourself. You select to write code or articles for Cortex and can decide what and how. No one else dictates that. This is powerful.
I wrote this article. The Mayor didn’t tell me, did not even ask me to do it. Another excellent example of this is our famous Flex-time. You can come and go whenever you want (almost) as long as you do your work. A simple but extremely powerful way of giving each one of us a little bit flexibility and possibility to control our own time, daily life and the feeling of control of our own life – autonomy.
If you are allowed to decide for yourself or within the team how you should do something then of course your awareness and level of responsibility and accountability will skyrocket. If you take that away for a team, you will soon see a team also checking out and not feel they are accountable since someone else made the call, not them.
This is when you can develop your code, finalize your article or app so YOU are proud or pleased with it. No one else will tell you when to release, when the code is good or nice enough or that the app should be released tomorrow.
You decide when you are proud enough, pleased enough, tested enough, YOU think it is good enough to YOUR standards (or the team’s)!
If you do this you will also get a team that will take responsibility for the quality as well producing something better than before.
The last, but not least –and actually the most important of the factors in my book (in capital letters) — is PURPOSE. What that tells us is – “I know why I am here and what I contribute with (as an individual or as a team)” and gives meaning to what you do. This is very powerful and essential to get motivation and drive, personally or in a team.
It’s probably the most important tool for any manager or leader to enable motivation (as we all know, you cannot as a leader motivate people directly), that is make it possible for anyone to become motivated by understanding how they contribute.
Why does Spotify seem to have all their employees so motivated? Because they have one purpose in life, so well put in front of them, daily, focused, repeated and without any divergence from the path so far.
It seems that they are repeatedly coming back to that if they are astray, repeat it for all and everyone, and make sure the message is clear in their marketing and messaging everywhere. It seems to be very powerful and working for them.
Every time I listen or read to anyone from or around Spotify I find myself thinking “Hey I also want to work there (for free)!”
[Editor’s note: No problem, but first you must work for free here in Cortex City :-)]
But if it so simple…why do we fail?
From a leadership perspective, were do we fail most often? I say on all three of them. Luckily, we have agile methodologies and tools like SCRUM.
Scrum focuses on setting small goals, for each short period, connecting those goals to business needs or customer problems (purpose). Scrum also focuses on the team judging and committing themselves to how much they can do each sprint (autonomy), and the team works out the best way to reach the goal, and how to reach the expected quality the team sets as standard for themselves (Mastery and Autonomy).
Excellent, but why do we still fail from time to time…?
If we as managers could let go, just make sure these values are protected and truly lived by, not only in the teams but also throughout the organization, you will get awesome teams. In those teams you’ll find highly motivated people, and I kid you not – awesome results.
And on the other hand – I have so many times seen this shot down.
Either by the business case just dictating a mission impossible (often delivery dates, or just too much and with uncommitted teams), no proper goals or understood effects we are supposed to deliver/implement or by micromanagement on what and how to do things. And then we struggle with demotivated people, with less drive and of course less possibility to succeed with any of our goals.
If I should suggest anything from this to any leader or manager … focus on the Purpose. Make that super clear; what is the effect we are after, why are we here, how can I contribute?
If you get this across, the onboarding of people will be so much easier. The team will see how they can contribute to this goal and purpose. Even as a manager I can find myself without proper understanding, clear or communicated goals, or purpose.
But how will you lead, motivate and tell your teams what the purpose or goals are if you do not see them yourself? I say find them, or create them.
Your purpose and responsibility as a manager is to give your team goals and purpose for their daily work regardless what you see, understand, or get direction on. Protect them from vague, obscured, disparate goals and directives and focus your energy on providing them with clarity, goals, purpose and intended effects to reach.
Back to the original question.. why are we doing this on our spare time, for free? What’s your driver? Did we just prove Daniel Pink right, or shoot his theories down for the sake of us just being really horny for money or fame?
Your humble citizen,
Drive, by Daniel H. Pink (ISBN: 1594484805)