Summary of The Puzzle of Motivation

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At the turn of the millennium, nobody would have predicted that an online encyclopedia to which anyone could contribute without getting paid and with little oversight could be a success. Yet that’s exactly how Wikipedia became the world’s go-to reference site. Career analyst Dan Pink connects the dots between motivation and performance. He explains why rewards rarely boost productivity. “Autonomy, mastery and purpose” are the only factors that truly motivate people. getAbstract recommends Pink’s dynamic talk to anyone who seeks to learn about human behavior.

About the Speaker

Dan Pink is a career analyst and a contributing editor for Wired. He wrote A Whole New Mind.



Psychologist Karl Duncker created the “candle puzzle,” a cognitive science exercise that asks participants to adhere a candle to a wall so that, when lit, wax won’t drip on a table below. Participants have access to a candle, a box of thumbtacks and matches. The solution: Tack the thumbtack box to the wall, place the candle in it and then light the wick. The test examines participants’ “functional fixedness” – that is, their ability to view the thumbtack box as a candleholder rather than its prescribed purpose as a container.

Researcher Sam Glucksberg conducted a variation of the candle...

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    V. C. 4 years ago
    Worth listening for all total rewards professionals.
  • Avatar
    J. N. 5 years ago
    The ROWE method is a process I have heard about but not seen in action in any company I have dealt with or worked with at any time. I believe an employee who is able to work with a "staggered" schedule is definitely a happier employee.
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    S. K. 5 years ago
    Interesting study that finds incentives aren't as desired in the work force as one might think.
  • Avatar
    M. S. 5 years ago
    Worth listening to! Meaningful!
  • Avatar
    T. G. 5 years ago
    Strive to do what matters, a great motto to live by.....
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    D. D. 6 years ago
    This summary could also include more explanation of the concept of M.A.P. Mastery Autonomy Purpose.
  • Avatar
    K. S. 7 years ago
    Very interesting take on 21 C. motivation... It's not all about the money. Good speaker. Worth the listen.