Piotr Pawłowski

Motivation 3.0

New version of man's operating system

Since we're talking about Motivation 3.0, there must have been previous versions of it. The simplest was Motivation 1.0, which was about survival. The needs of thirst, hunger, and procreation were sufficient motivators for daily action. And that's more or less how it worked until the Industrial Revolution, during which people in factories began performing easily quantifiable activities. It's not hard to evaluate routine tasks: if you tightened 1000 screws it was OK, if less - punishment if more- reward. Note that in both Motivation 1.0 and 2.0 the element of punishment, or negative motivation, was very important (strongest in 1.0, because it was often the ultimate punishment). And what does it look like in today's knowledge economy? Can we easily compare the performance of different employees? How do we make people who work without the direct supervision of a supervisor as effective as possible?

First, forget about negative motivation. Motivation psychology over the past decade has moved almost completely away from the "motivator" in the form of punishment. I meet many experienced managers who get offended by this statement, but that's just the way it is. Why, that's a topic for a serious doctoral dissertation (by the way, more than one has appeared on this topic), so believe it or check with your sources. Here I digress: setting rules and controlling results are not elements that should be associated with negative motivation. Unless the rules are constantly changing with permanent control.

Second, remember the three most important components of Motivation 3.0: Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery.


PURPOSE | People perform significantly better knowing what their purpose is and what impact their performance has on achieving it. It is important that the goal gives a sense of purpose and not just the achievement of numerical indicators. Hence, we very often work with companies on a properly formulated vision and break it down into individual company teams.

AUTONOMY | Employees, if only they have sufficient competencies, work best in a model of full autonomy and trust that they can carry out the tasks assigned to them in the best possible way. This was recognized as early as the 1970s by the U.S. military, which developed battlefield doctrine in which line officers have complete autonomy in how they achieve their military objectives.

MASTERY | With well-defined goals and the autonomy to pursue them, we try to achieve them in the best possible way, never being completely satisfied with the result. So we look for optimization and new ways of doing things; thanks to that we become more and more efficient and we constantly develop.

And finally, something that may surprise you (as if you weren't already surprised that you should only motivate people positively 😉 ) - the result of Frederick Herzberg's research on the most important employee motivator. And it is... getting ahead in the work that's important to them.

And if that's the case, then being leaders and managers, the best thing you can do for your people is to support them in making progress in their work. Just that and more. Below you will find a catalog of catalysts that can help you do just that. Note how it aligns with the components of Motivation 3.0.


  • Setting specific goals
  • Granting autonomy
  • Providing resources and time
  • Helping you get the job done
  • Learning from failures and successes
  • Allowing the free exchange of ideas.

Daniel H. Pink - Drive. A whole new perspective on motivation
Winning. Motivation. Special report Harvard Business Review Poland
Teresa M. Amabile, Steven J. Kramer - The Motivating Power of Small Wins

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