Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Motivation 3.0: a sense of purpose

Some time ago I read a book by Dan Pink called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates. It’s a fine read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in understanding how to get the most out of a team (or just out of yourself). If you want to get a taste of the book, have a look at this wonderful illustrated version of a talk that Pink gave to the RSA.

Pink identifies three things that matter to people who are working in creative positions, or positions that don’t just involve repeating the same kinds of tasks again and again.

  • Autonomy. Ideally, over what you do, when you do it, who you do it with, and how you do it.
  • Mastery. Your abilities are finite, but infinitely improvable; improvement demands effort; and mastery can never be fully attained, which is part of the allure.
  • Purpose. Within an organization, use profits to reach purpose, emphasize more than just self-interest, and allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms.

At Karos Health, last week, I was vividly reminded of the role that purpose plays.

Karos Health is about improving the quality of health care through information-sharing and collaboration amongst health care stakeholders. Among the things that our products do, for example, is moving diagnostic images like CT scans from a scanner to a radiologist who will read the scan, and moving the resulting diagnosis from that radiologist to the physician who requested the images.

In a meeting with a customer we heard that in many cases their expected turn-around time for having a CT scan read by a radiologist and a result delivered to the requesting physician is under twenty minutes. Why? It isn’t for money-related or market-related reasons. It’s because for a stroke victim waiting to receive treatment, every second counts. That’s a highly motivating purpose for us at Karos.

Obviously purpose isn’t confined to helping save lives. What’s your purpose?

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