Skillsoft Blog

“Driving” Lessons from Dan Pink

By Julie Ogilvie

Having just read the latest Dan Pink best-seller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, I’m really looking forward to our upcoming SkillSoft Live Event, “The Science of Motivation and Its Connection to High Performance” featuring Dan Pink.  Drive is one of the most compelling books on management that I have read in some time, and it has me ruminating on management, motherhood and learning:

On management:  I enjoyed reading a book that scientifically validates the intuitive belief I’ve had for many years that managing creative people is less about setting rules and dictating process and more about allowing them the autonomy to do their best work.  Obviously there are limits on workplace behavior, and deadlines are a fact of life, but giving creative people the space and time to think through problems and work out their own solutions almost always results in a better outcome in the short run, and more satisfied, engaged employees in the long run.  This may not hold true for all kinds of jobs, (as Pink points out), but in the world of marketing, many people do feel deeply motivated by the work itself, whether that’s creating a well-crafted piece of prose, a dynamic Flash movie or a Facebook update.


On motherhood:  If only I was as good at applying these motivational principles at home!  After reading this book I cringed with the realization that as a mom I’m all too often using old fashioned “carrot and stick” techniques.  Pink includes a chapter of ideas for helping parents and educators apply the motivation principles in the book to the home and classroom.  One of the great ironies is that our “everybody gets a trophy” culture is taking the fun out of fun.  We’re teaching our kids to focus more on the “extrinsic reward” than the activity itself.  Sometimes we need to take a step back and let them do it their way, allowing them to struggle and even fail on the road to mastery.

On learning:  Workplace learning is another route for people to express their autonomy and need for mastery.  SkillSoft’s courses are built on an instructional design model that is based in adult learning principles that emphasize learner initiative, self-management and mastery (you can read more in our white paper Instructional Design Model for Courseware).  What’s interesting is that these are the “intrinsic motivators” that Pink talks about extensively in Drive.  Now, the primary motivator for taking an e-learning course is often something quite mundane – you can’t figure out on your own how to format an Excel spreadsheet for example.  But it’s nice to know that at some level, for some learners, e-learning can also satisfy the basic human need for self-direction and personal growth.  That’s something for learning professionals to feel good about!

On September 22, SkillSoft will be hosting a live virtual event featuring Dan Pink entitled “The Science of Motivation and its Connection to High Performance,” from Washington D.C. The traditionally subscriber-only, virtual event is part of the SkillSoft’s Leadership Development Channel, 50 Lessons and SkillSoft Leadership Advantage. For the first time, SkillSoft is making the event available to a limited number of qualified executives. Those attending the 90-minute live webcast will have an opportunity to submit questions via email and Twitter and interact with peers around the world. For more information on this limited access exclusive web event and to see if you qualify, please register here.




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