Culture of Intrinsic Motivation LO10126

William J. Hobler, Jr (
Sun, 22 Sep 1996 19:17:33 -0400

Replying to LO10093 --

Several posts ago I asked, "What characteristics, values, principles ...
would encourage people's interior motivation toward their work? "

Randolph Jennings and Rol Fessendon (among others) replied

From: Randolph Jennings

>This is, indeed, an interesting question, which I would shift in emphasis
>to: what would encourage people's interior motivation toward *our* work.
>I have always worked in non-profit organizations, and now in higher
>education, and in all of these organizations the individuals involved have
>a very high level of personal commitment to what they perceive the service
>to be. The challenge is to expand this interior motivation to a
>commitment to what the organization must accomplish.

Hear, hear.! The really hard part of leadership is to have the team
internalize the goals as theirs - theirs as individuals.

>... but I still struggle with this basic question about how to cultivate the
>idea of the enterprise in the mind of *everyone* involved. My current
>strategy is
>simply to keep talking out loud about it, figuring that if we start enough
>conversations in enough places across the organization, other people will
>take up enough of the question that a community-wide understanding will
>take root and grow. Does anyone have other good habits to suggest?

From: Rol Fessenden

>I have worked in three different cultures
>where there were significant groups of people who were _very_ motivated in
>their work. Those cultures were college professors, teachers, and social
>workers in social work agencies. In all three cases, there were also
>significant numbers of people who were just putting in the hours, but
>there was a surprising number who really enjoyed their work and were
>intrinsically motivated.

I am interested in the fact that Randy and Rol both cite volunteer and
education as fields in which motivation is intrinsic. i would add at
least some areas of medicine and scientific research. Off line another
member of this list cited ourselves as people who enjoy our work for the
contribution we think it (hence we) provides to society.

I would ask Rol, since he has shared openly about his business
environment, if the same intrinsic motivation exists in his business? I
would suspect it does. If so, then I would be interested in Rol's left
hand column comment concerning why he did not mention it, or why he did
not think to mention it.

Rol again

>What is interesting about Bill's question is that the _organizational_
>characteristics in all three cases would be primarily characterized as

IMO the fields of volunteer work and education have some characteristics
not inherent to business and government One of my daughters is a grade
school educator. She must work two jobs to house and feed herself. She
could get other work from which she could improve her financially based
quality of life. She will not give up 'her kids' for more money.

The professions of consulting seem to attract people who are intrinsically
motivated. I am writing this on a flight across America. The life of
weeks away from home and family is not an American dream. I conclude that
most of us who do this week in and week out have some other motivation
derived internally.

How many people working in manufacturing, on the line, or distribution,
driving the delivery truck, wouldn't shift jobs for more money?

I think that these are the people we must motivate toward achieving goals
and levels of performance necessary to improve their quality of life. I
agree with Randy that the organizational characteristics sought have been
somewhat discussed in leadership threads in this list. I think that Rol
and If Price were close to the mark when they tried SETs. The just
introduced thread resulting from AutoCo Epsilon has some of the
characteristics needed.

I'll start by stating that IMO the open atmosphere of a learning
organization must exist. Any subject should be discussable and be
discussed at all levels in the organization. More over the type of vision
and values discussed in the citations to Shell Oil and GE must be accepted
at all levels.

Is this correct? What else is needed? What are sufficient conditions?
How are they developed? Is the process described in AutoCo Epsilon the
way to get people to internalize commitment to the organization> What else
has succeeded?

I would like this thread to continue toward the end of pragmatic ideas
that help organizations.


-- Bill Hobler

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>