P is for Daniel Pink: Factors That Motivate Us To Perform Fine Work

In this animated video Daniel gives an introduction to the key factors that drive people in their work. This is based on a talk he gave at the Royal Society of Arts.

The topics he covers are described in his book Drive. You can discover more about other aspects of his work at his website.


Daniel begins the video by describing several experiments in which people were given tasks to do. The operative word is ‘given’. The findings showed that, in cases where people needed to use their cognitive skills, they were not incentivised by being given extra money.

Daniel moves on to describe the factors that are more likely to motivate people to perform fine work. These are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.



People want to enjoy a sense of self-direction and autonomy in their work. They want to choose what they work on – within certain parameters – rather than be ordered to do it.

This principle is highlighted in many super teams. People are clear on the team’s story, strategy and road to success. They then make clear contracts about how they want to contribute towards achieving the picture of success.

Great leaders manage by outcomes, rather than by tasks. They communicate the ‘What’ – the results that must be delivered. They also communicate the benefits of achieving the results – this is the ‘Why’.

People can decide whether they want to opt into delivering the outcomes. If they choose to do so, they then have freedom – within parameters – regarding ‘How’ they produce the goods. People can apply their knowledge to deliver success.


People want to develop. They want to keep learning from the die they are born to the day they day. The only time this is interrupted is when they are ordered to do pointless tasks in school or work.

People often develop when they tackle work that is stimulating, stretching and has a chance of success. They also grow by tackling challenging tasks.

People love to go through the process of absorption, adventure and achievement. They love to learn, develop and gain a sense of mastery. After a period of reflection, they then want to go on to the next challenge.

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose


People often want three things from work: money, meaning and magic. Money feeds the stomach, but meaning and magic feed the spirit and the soul.

Daniel reinforces the findings of Frankl, Greenleaf and many others who describe the driving force of purpose. People are purpose-driven.

Great leaders recognise this factor. So they keep communicating a compelling story, strategy and road to success. This provides a meaningful context for doing great work.

People are certainly prepared to do the grunt work, as well as the great work, but they must see the purpose. They are then more likely to perform fine work and deliver success.

Here is Daniel talking on this topic at TED.

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