Intrinsic Motivators Leading to Chef



I’m reading about culture in Lean Enterprise, and the author makes the point that bonuses aren’t the most effective means of motivating employees:

While extrinsic motivators such as bonuses are effective in…mechanical work, they actually reduce performance in the context of knowledge work. People involved in nonroutine work are motivated by intrinsic factors summarized by Dan Pink as: 1: Autonomy: the desire to direct our own lives; 2. Mastery: the urge to get better and better at something that matters; 3. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

I think this does a really great job of describing what my intrinsic motivators are for rolling out Chef in our organization. Yes, I’d love to be compensated well for doing what we are doing and would never argue to the contrary. I’ve seen though in the past that money is just money and there are things that matter to me as much or more than money. Daniel Pink really hits the nail on the head about what those are:

  1. Autonomy: providing this capability to my company will create more of an ability to direct my own path in the future. The more value I help create, the more I can be in control on how I express that value, and the more freedom I’ll have, within the context of a team, to solve problems that interest me.
  2. Mastery: here is something that I can master: how to automate infrastructure configuration management through code using chef. This is something that can scale quite large, and I have the ability to become one of a few people in the organization that has a full handle on it. That’s exciting to me! I don’t want to be mediocre or have a skill that everyone else views as a commodity.
  3. Purpose: this is the biggest intrinsic motivator for what I’m doing. People who do configuration management today have chaotic lives and regularly stay up all hours of the night to perform their duties manually. I get to change that! Our customers don’t yet have the uptime and consistency that they expect and deserve. I get to help change that, and create a game-changing strength for our organization compared to our competitors.

I’m excited about this journey that I’m on. The motivators are far more intrinsic than extrinsic. I’ve discovered that is why they are so powerful.

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