September, 2009 | Behavior Matters!

Month: September 2009 Page 1 of 2

The Amazing Race and The Four Drive Model of Motivation


Last night I watched the new season of the television show The Amazing Race. I have been a fan of the show since the beginning and I enjoy watching the team dynamics as the show progresses from Day 1 to the finale. The overall concept is teams of 2 people travel around the world encountering challenges and roadblocks along the way. The end reward is $1,000,000 to the team that wins.

As I watched the different teams interact I noticed that the teams each year can be categorized into different groups. The same types of teams end-up being casted on the show. There are the athletes, newly engaged couple, related couple, oddballs, brainy, older, rocky relationship, etc. I am sure the casting is done primarily to mix up the groups so there is tension, good competition, and some laughter in between the madness of racing around the world.

The other thing I noticed is the Four Drive model of motivation working within the team dynamics.

Acquire and Achieve: Clearly the teams are competing to win a prize, a smacking $1,000,000. Not a small sum of money and one that kicks up the competitive gears when things tart getting tough. In addition, achieving the success of winning the Amazing Race has a sense of accomplishment and notoriety in and of itself.  It is also interesting to watch the individual challenges and the faces of individuals after they are successful – one can actually see the sense of achievement being felt after completing a challenge well. 

Bond and Belong: The teams of 2 people are inherently bonded as they have an established relationship prior to going on the show. The relationships are tested through the various challenges and obstacles met along the competition. Many of the contestants have chosen to go on the show to test their relationship to see if it will withstand the pressure of such a rigorous competition. Some make it through and are stronger because of the experience while others crash and burn without any sign of recovery.  The other piece is the contestants have a sense of belonging to a group of people that have done the Amazing Race before them. It is a shared experience not only with their current competitors but with the ones that have competed before them. A small group of the world’s population and they share an experience that brings them together.

Challenge and Comprehend: The Amazing Race is set up to challenge the contestants mentally and physically. The various roadblocks along the way can be exhausting on top of the fact that they have just traveled half way around the world with little or no sleep. Each day the teams are faced with numerous challenges from the mundane (catching a bus) to the extreme (moving heavy mud around or herding ducks).  This is pushing the mental and physical capabilities of the contestants at every corner. In addition, add in the piece of understanding the norms and behaviors of a different culture it is amazing that the contestants make it out of the airports.

Defend and Define: This drive comes out full force in a competition for $1,000,000. I have seen teams lie, cheat, and manipulate their way to the finish line while others have defined themselves in a different way.  Some teams try and stick to their values of being nice, helping out other teams, and working with an alliance. The teams that take the nice route end-up having a few speed bumps along the way but in the end they learn a lot about what pushes them to their breaking point. How they define who they are as team and how they defend it is fun to watch.

I encourage you to work with the Four Drive model as you watch your favorite television shows and within your day-to-day work environment. You might be surprised to find some of the same ‘characters’ present in your workplace utilizing the four drives to motivate them to the finish line.



The Rise of Behavioral Economics

This is a very interesting video (albeit a little long) about the rise of behavioral economics and its impact on the economic and political world .  I find this topic fascinating as it helps in understanding some motivational impacts and also the limit of some motivational theories (including the Four Drive Model).  We can all learn from the insights here.

I want to state that while I agree with some of the comments I disagree wholeheartedly with some others.  In particular, I tend to agree with the ideas brought up by Leigh Caldwell and Mike Savage, and pretty much dismiss the conclusions made by Emre Ozendoren.   The idea that by nudging behavior in a way that is deemed more appropriate is in some way totalitarian is utterly preposterous.   It is indeed, in my mind, dismissing the idea that we have choice.  What Emre is missing is that we are already constantly nudged.  The fact that changing the nudge to be something that is going to be more beneficial for society or for individuals is not invasive – it is just a different nudge than the one that is currently going on.

Also, I believe there is a little bit of sophistry going on when the presenters talk about the behavioral economists calling people “irrational.”  The “irrational” component discussed by most behavioral economists does not propose that we are mad or a little cracked, but refers to the fact that we do not always behave in a classic economists’ rational manner.  In other words, emotions come into play and we don’t always optimize our economic well being.  The fact that some of the speakers in this are trying to position the behavioral economists viewpoint as stating people are mad is a little misleading.

All in all – this video raises some good thoughts and sheds some light, I believe, on the juncture of classic economics with the newer thoughts around behavioral economics.  Watch and enjoy!

PS – sorry for the big words – I think the accents got me thinking in a very academic manner…

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What type of short-term incentives work best?

I poised the following question to an on-line professional sales group that I’m a member of:

“What type of short term sales incentive rewards work best?  I was wondering what people in the group thought were the best types of short term incentive rewards? Research shows that most people will tend to pick cash but that performance actually is better with non-cash rewards (trips, merchandise, etc…). What are your experiences with this – have you seen a difference in sales results with different types of rewards?”  Within 24 hours I had received 45 responses.  I summarized those 45 responses and created the following summary that I presented back to them.  I thought that this might be interesting post for this blog as well… here is my summary:

Thanks everyone for such great input on this question. Your responses have definitely provided some great insight into what makes an effective short-term incentive. I will attempt to summarize the 45 posts on this so far and would love more feedback in case I’ve missed something.

In general, it appears that most respondents felt that cash is a key part of the overall compensation, but that it is probably NOT the best medium for a short-term program. There is a strong preference for non-cash and recognition type of rewards. As Greg D put it, “Recognition drives as much healthy sales will as money.” As indicated in the question itself, research has shown that non-cash awards typically outperform cash awards in the same incentive program. The general gist from the responses so far seems to support that finding. Dick O said it best when he said, “I can’t remember all of that cash that I’ve won. ..I’ll tell you though, that I remember each time I was recognized.”

There was also a significant emphasis on not having a “one-size fits all” approach and to create individual incentives whenever possible. Dana W summarizes this feeling with “No one incentive is going to work for all people.” Another aspect that was discussed was bringing in others (spouse, family) to the reward. These types of rewards were thought by some to provide “extra” incentive to earn them. Allowing sales person input into the actual award was also mentioned.

A key component to this all was brought up by Tim M and Tom F – that the structure of the incentive is as important or more important than the type of reward offered. On this I would have to agree. In my experience, how the program rules are structured, who is eligible to win (or more importantly believe that they can win), the timing of the incentive, and how results are measured are going to make or break any program. As Tim stated, “…the type of reward has less to do with the success or failure of a contest or incentive than the STRUCTURE and TIMING of the incentive.”

Thanks to everyone for their input – I’d love to have more discussion on this and how incentives can be structured to be more effective moving forward. On an end note, just some of the fun reward offerings that I found interesting: bottle of wine and dinner, time off, give to charitable foundation, becoming a member of a special “club.”


Litter Motivation

cigarette butts

I am a little dismayed with humanity right now.

I spent last Saturday morning cleaning up my neighborhood.   This is an annual volunteer event that the Whittier Neighborhood association sponsors and we’ve done it for a couple of years now.  In a matter of a little over two hours my wife, my 3 year old, and myself collected three large garbage bags full of litter.  The things that people throw out and leave on the sidewalk and street are amazing.  Obviously there are the cans and bottles, the candy wrappers, fast food wrappers, the old newspapers and magazines.  There were also expired prescription pill boxes (with pills in them), paint cans, CDs, and some items that are used by young lovers in parked cars that get thrown out when done (ewhh….).   But by far the largest number of items I picked up were cigarette butts.  There were literally thousands on the 10 blocks that we had to clean.  I felt like I was walking in an ashtray when I was done.

It all got me thinking – what motivates someone to not litter?  Obviously, it is often easier to just deposit your trash out the window of your car or drop it on the sidewalk – so what makes someone motivated to go to the little extra effort to dispose of trash in a more appropriate place (such as a trash can)?  I think that most of it comes down to the “D Drive” (that is the Drive to Define and Defend).   I’ve written about this before but here is a quick refresher.    The Drive to Define and Defend is about how we defend those things that are important to us when they are in danger – our family, our business, our neighborhood.  It is also about how we define ourselves (i.e., what type of person am I) – thus, I am motivated to do behaviors that are consistent with my personal view of myself or that match the tribe or organization I live in.  Our motivation to not litter then is based on if we believe that our neighborhoods are in danger of being overrun by trash (not literally overrun, although after my Saturday morning experience, who knows…).  Do we look at leaving a candy wrapper or a cigarette butt on the street as not respecting our neighborhood or our world?  Think about the “Don’t Mess With Texas” slogan – did you know that was done originally to reduce litter on the Texas highway system?  And it worked – because it helped define the problem for people and also activated their Drive to Defend.  It was a great campaign that made people realize that to feel proud about Texas, they needed to ensure that they didn’t “mess with it” by littering.  Even the terminology is ripe with defensiveness.

Now if only we could create a “Don’t Mess With Minneapolis” campaign!

While I’m dismayed at the present moment, I’m hopeful that with the revitalization of our neighborhood, that the litter will decrease.  People will feel more pride in living here and take more care of our streets and sidewalks.  That they will feel the pride necessary to defend the neighborhood from trash and cigarette butts.   So please don’t mess with Minneapolis – keep your Butts in the car!



Motivational Video

Sometimes we just need a little inspiration.  Enjoy!


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Motivational gear anyone?

Ok, we have put some fun items (t-shirts, mugs, calendars) out on CafePress – check it out for some fun and whimsical motivational gifts  today_CM

The Four Drive Model and a Glass of Tuscan Wine: A Perfect Pairing

wine 3

I recently returned from a trip to Italy and I observed firsthand how motivation, passion, and work can intertwine to make something beautiful.  I had the pleasure of staying at an Agriturismo or working farm in the Tuscany area.  Two out of the three nights we stayed, we participated in a home cooked meal which included ingredients from the Agriturismo as well as other farms within a 50 miles radius. In addition, we enjoyed the wine that they produced and sold. 

 Throughout the evening we were able to sample a variety of different wines, some were currently on the market while others were deemed experiments. I enjoyed listening to the winemaker describe where the grapes were grown, what the climate was for a particular year and how it affected the grapes. But my favorite moment was when he shared one of his experiments with us and I commented that I really liked it. His face shown like the brightest light with his smile and he spun around and jumped up and down like a kid trying to dance an Irish jig. I thought to myself, wow, that is it, the physical manifestation of passion.

I thought this was a unique opportunity to look at how the four drive model was working within the Tuscan kitchen. The following is based on my experience and perceptions of witnessing a passionate winemaker share his love for a product that is clearly more to him than just a product, it is a part of him and everyone that had a hand in creating the wine. Below I utilized the four drives, Acquire and Achieve, Bond and Belong, Challenge and Comprehend, and Defend and Define to bring to life the motivational drives to produce a wine that has soul and strength.

Acquire and Achieve: The winemaker had an ambition to sell good quality wine that was a standout in the region. One of the ways of achieving this was to experiment and take chances in order to make that dream happen.  Selling the wine allowed him to acquire the things he wanted, selling the best good quality wine, allowed him to achieve a sense of accomplishment and prestige.

Bond and Belong: The winemaker would tell us stories of the workers on the ‘farm’ aka winery and how they all worked together to produce this amazing product that he was so proud of sharing with us.  I could tell by how he described the process and the grapes that it was a team effort.  The relationships and camaraderie were as important for him in producing the wine as the grapes.

Challenge and Comprehend: Creating the perfect wine for the market is a constant challenge and learning process. When to harvest, which grapes to grow, how will the grapes interact, is a part of creating the right wine. How do you know when to play a hunch, with an idea for a different kind of wine?  The winemaker loved finding out if his ‘hunch’ was right on his experiments during our dinners at the Agriturismo. He was learning and listening to his customers and then he will apply that knowledge to produce a great wine.

Defend and Define: The area the winemaker grew grapes in is the Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG a very proud and distinguished region for growing grapes. The importance of having the certification for the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) means the grapes are produced in a specific region under defined quality standards.  This is a great source of pride and being a part of a larger Vernaccia grape growing community is important to the quality of the product and to the pride of the winemaker, so defend the grape!

As I reflect on the dining experiences with our wonderful hosts I see how the four drive model of motivation was living and breathing in the Tuscan kitchen for our wonderful winemaker.  It may seem like an odd place to find the four drive model but why not? When working with different models sometimes they are hard to bring to life from a concept to every day practicality. It is in working with them, applying them to situations that the model can come to life and show its power and strength. Just like a winemaker needs to tend to the grapes, the four drive model needs to be worked with to bring it to life and not just words on paper.

Susan Stone


Let’s get sales incentives right

Salespeople who are engaged in their roles, who are motivated to succeed, and who’s goals are aligned with the organizational goals have been shown to have a significant impact on helping an organization succeed (Badovick, Hadaway, & Kaminski, 1992). Successful organizations understand this and try to keep their sales employees motivated and engaged through a variety of motivational methods – mostly involving extrinsic rewards. While much has been much written about how extrinsic rewards may have a detrimental effect of on a sales person’s intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, Kohn, or Pink) there is little disagreement on the short-term impact that extrinsic rewards can have on a company’s performance. The short-term benefit of extrinsic rewards assures us that these rewards will be used in businesses no matter what Alfie Kohn or Dan Pink has to say on the topic.

It is important then that we get sales incentives right.  We need to ensure that as leaders, we are not limited in our thinking about how we can structure sales incentives and how they operate.   We must look at optimizing how our incentive plans are designed, the type of reward that is offered, and how goals are set.

Extrinsic Reward Program Structure

There is a very clear framework, based on the research that suggests that extrinsic reward programs should be designed such that the rewards are contingent on achieving increasing performance goals.  By doing this, companies not only limit the negative impact that extrinsic rewards can have an intrinsic motivation, they also increase the actual performance that extrinsic rewards drive.  This means that the use of non-contingent incentive rewards should be limited.  It means that incentive plans that are strictly “do this – get that” are not optimal.  Contests that rank people against one another also are not optimal as they only provide feedback that the sales person did better than the others – not against a goal.

Extrinsic Reward Type

The typical reward for performance is usually cash.  When surveyed, over 70% of sales people indicate that they would prefer cash.  However, there have been studies that show non-cash rewards (i.e., trips, merchandise) have a bigger impact on performance than cash alone.  This does not mean that one would replace their annual sales incentive programs cash bonus with rewards of trips and tv’s – but it does mean there should probably be a mix.  It should also be noted, that sometimes extrinsic rewards are based on fulfilling the drive for Achievement and as such, do not require significant outlays of dollars – recognition of performance by senior leaders can be a significant motivator for sales people.

Goal Setting

A majority of sales incentive plans have goals that are provided to individuals.  Goals are good – they have been shown to increase performance across a myriad of environments (see Locke and Lathum).  However, we’ve seen significant backlash against goals when they are not understood or felt to be so out of reach as to be laughable.  The negative impact of this can outweigh any positive motivation that you get from the incentives.  Goals must be understood and bought into (i.e., perceived as fair) to be effective.  There are a number of ways that companies can do this, but they often require changing systems and processes that have been in place for years.  The key is to get the setting of individual sales goals to be as close to the sales representatives as possible, while still ensuring that they align with the company sales objectives.  The science (or art) of this can be very daunting – but trust me, I’ve seen it done.  One simple way to help is to provide a means for front-level managers to effectively shift quota from one territory to another but provide mechanisms to ensure fairness.

Of course extrinsic rewards are just one piece of the motivational puzzle and shouldn’t be used as the only lever to drive motivation and engagement.  The key is to ensure that the incentives are right and that they do not detract from the other methods of motivation.

Intrinsic versus Extrinsic is the wrong discussion

There has been a significant amount of research on the merits of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation (see Eisenberger, Deci, Ryan, Locke, Latham, Kohn, and now Dan Pink…).  Both sides of the controversy claim that their favored motivational drive is best.  In my opinion, they are both barking up the wrong tree.

It has been shown empirically that both types of motivation drive behavior.   In the real world, both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations are utilized in almost all work situations.  I don’t know of any work place that doesn’t provide employees with some type of pay and most have some sort of variable pay.  I also don’t know of a workplace where there isn’t a focus on (or at least lip service to) improving how jobs are structured for greater engagement or how leaders can inspire their employees.  However, the real discussion should be on how to leverage both forms of motivation to get the behavior change that is needed.

The main issue in this debate focuses around the general impact that extrinsic reward has on intrinsic motivation. Both sides of the debate admit that in certain circumstances extrinsic rewards can either have a detrimental or positive impact on intrinsic motivation.  The issue that businesses face is how to create incentives that not only drive immediate performance but also have a positive influence on intrinsic motivation.  The discussion needs to be not on an either/or type scenario, but on how do we leverage the power of both.

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