Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and Why Agile Works

In Daniel Pink’s bestseller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the author persuasively argues that what motivates people in the knowledge economy (of which software development is squarely seated) “is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. ”

People are no longer motivated by the carrot and stick approach of past Tayloristic, manufacturing, assembly line business. What motivates new workers, and what has been supported by a wide range of scientific studies, can be summarized by the acronym AMP which stands for Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

As an Agilist, I am always curious why in one company an Agile implementation succeeds and in another it does not. While there are many reasons for Agile implementations to fail, one thing that many have in common is that they fail to take into account the three factors Pink describes in his book.

Recently I have gone back to the Agile principles to see how well they align with Pink’s book. I think they align very well.

For Autonomy there are principles that speak to business and development working together, motivated individuals being trusted to get work done, self organizing teams and teams adjusted their behavior at regular intervals.

For Mastery are principles around building working software, continuous attention to technical excellence and design and simplicity.

For Purpose I think that principles around client satisfaction and working software align well with the need for individual and team purpose.

If you are working on an Agile team, especially if you are leading an Agile team, I highly encourage you to read Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. It will challenge your existing notions about motivation and allow you to grow as a leader armed with the truth about what motivates your team members.

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