(I was writing about trust and business and then this happened. I’ll get to that topic later. For now…)
In 2010, Daniel Pink, author and chief speech writer for former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, listed three key motivational factors:
Motivation in Business
In the video, Pink demonstrates why hourly wages may not be the best tools to motivate employees. Instead, he offers why autonomy, mastery, and purpose are what best motivate people in jobs that require cognitive processing (e.g., teachers, plumbers, writers, customer service representatives, consultants, electricians, engineers, and so forth).
This isn’t anything new. Autonomy is something author Benjamin Benson wrote about in his 1990 book, Your Family Business. In fact, he claims that autonomy is important not only for the individual, but also for the team.
Ever hear of Skunk Works? They’re the Advanced Development Programs/Projects Division, an autonomous team operating within Lockheed Martin. This team is the one that brought us the U-2, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117, and several other highly valued aircraft. How were they able to do all this? By employing their operational autonomy within Lockheed Martin.
Ensuring that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are present within your business culture helps solidify your organization so that it will last generations and enjoy lifelong customers and employees. For a great example, see Zappos. Google. See Mars, Gordon Food Service, and JM Family Enterprises. Each one of these companies proves this powerful formula.
Motivation in Education
The public school system in the United States is always evolving. Here are some questions that are frequently asked: How should we test students? Should we test teachers? What are the standards we should hold districts to? How should we help those who are less fortunate? What about the kids who struggle with mainstream learning? All of these are valid questions, but if a formula for success has already been proven, why reinvent the wheel?
If autonomy, mastery, and purpose motivate employees, why would they not also motivate children? Why would they not also motivate teachers?
Teachers are the beating heart of the public school system. They’re the ones—not the districts—who intimately know each and every child in a class. Most educators choose to teach not because of the money involved, but because of a desire to help kids grow. So why not get out of their way, give them autonomy in their classrooms, and allow them to create a learning structure that works for their students?
Children are natural learners. They want to discover the world around them. They want to become masters of the subjects they’re naturally drawn to. Why not get out of their way, as well, and allow them to guide their own paths toward learning?
The question I pose is this: With the goal of advancing our public school system, what would happen if we gave kids and teachers autonomy, allowed them to become masters of their unique interests, and granted them the purpose to become who and what they want to be?
The Meshing of Business and Education
I believe everything in our world is connected.
If kids today were able to guide their own educational paths, would they become pioneers of better business practices in the future? And from there, would they spearhead a generation of better people? Happier people? If so, that could lead to less crime, less violence, and more advancements in technology, engineering, sociology, psychology, and healthcare.