Redefining Intrinsic Motivation


Framework of Intrinsic Motivation

Thus, we arrive at the formulation of the Framework of Intrinsic Motivation in the context of a co-creating organization. The framework is focused on the expansion of the Self towards the breakage of the safety space, and the accumulation of the potential energy that can be used for the mutual benefit of the organization and employees. Organizations provide a media for employees to grow through co-creation, allowing them to expand and explode their potential over traditionally accepted boundaries. The transformation of the desire to learn into a learning outcome, is intrinsically a motivating activity that allows individuals to experience flow at the time of learning, as well as experience a qualitative shift in a form of learning outcome, which leads to the accumulation of skill and energy. This intrinsically motivating activity forms a loop of Desires—Goals—Motivations—Activity—Experiences, further referred to as an engagement cycle (Figure 11.1), with new experiences uncovering new perspectives, leading to new desires that force the individual to the next iteration of the loop. This Engagement cycle is based on the Behavior Cycle Framework[1] illustrated in Figure 1.1 (see Chapter 1).

The depth of one's desires is determined by the source from which they originate. They can be rational constructs of the mind, irrational impulses of the heart, or constructive manifestations of the will. Desires originating from the heart are considered as those coming from the subconscious.

Desires, which originate from the will connected to the Source of the future that is about to emerge, are those that are based on stewardship, change making, and representations of the forces that shape the future. This is the

The engagement cycle

Figure 11.1 The engagement cycle

deepest level of desires, and the most constructive when it comes to co-creation. The breadth of desires depends on the level of self-awareness, richness of perspectives and prior experiences. It increases with the number of iterations

of the engagement cycle.

Organizations can tune-in employees into a specific activity through the process of Initiation, run by mentors who can let the individual experience the final outcome of the activity before participating in it. During initiation the subject feels the resulting outcome of the experience, assigning value to the prior conceptualizations of this experience. What was purely rational suddenly becomes meaningful and desirable.

Desires force individuals to set goals. The goals can be either implicit (subconscious) or explicit (conscious), depending on the level of self-awareness of the individual. In either case, the goal can be identified using the Activity Map (see Figure 11.2) to understand the focus of the goal (internal or external, consumption or creation) in order to forecast the depth of engagement in the activity, and the resulting level of the energy outcome. Ideally, the goal has to be in the zone of creation with balanced external and internal sources.

Organizations can alter the goals of the employees through powerful motivational objects, that can be set either for the company globally, or at the level of an individual specifically. Motivational objects inspire individuals to set goals that are aligned with the activities of the organization. It has to be noted, that the goals should be self-selected by the employees, otherwise they will inhibit intrinsic motivation.

In order to sustain it in the long run, intrinsic motivation needs to be amplified and re-kindled. This is achieved either by a deep connection with the audience, being the customer base, followers, or anyone who may see value in the business activity of the organization, or by a connection to the source of the emerging future. In both cases, the key feature of a co-creating organization is the equal right of the employees to connect to these sources. At Zappos for example, it is not only the head of the company, or the customer relations' managers, that are exposed to the public—it is at the discretion of every employee to connect deeply with the consumer. Zappos' employees have the right to represent the organization at its best. When it comes to a connection to the source of emerging future: it is not only the manager who does this, it is every employee and potentially customers, who take part in this co-creation. 'We are creating the future'—the famous quote of Steve Jobs says it all. It is not only Jobs as a principal who creates the future—it is 'we,' and that involves every single employee in the process. In the case of Jobs this was not just a declared statement, the employees of Apple were willing to work 80 hours a week to fulfill their dream. With the release of the iPhone and the App Store, this dream was transferred to the crowds as sources of ideas, transforming Apple into a co-creating organization.

A successfully completed engagement cycle leads to new experiences that shift perspectives. These new experiences are both at the level of the body—in the form of sensations that are unveiled by the experience, and at the level of the mind—in the form of rationalizations and conceptualizations of the experiences ingrained into the individual's mental model. A completed engagement cycle means that experiential knowledge was received. Reflecting on the experiential knowledge leads to conceptual knowledge that is based on hands-on experiences. Both experiential and conceptual knowledge create a context of intrinsically motivating activities, which the individual is interested to participate in. For example, a cook with a specialty in meat dishes, after the first successful take

Ideology, fellowship and ethos as media for engagement with open mind, open heart, and open will

Figure 11.2 Ideology, fellowship and ethos as media for engagement with open mind, open heart, and open will

on baked desserts, opens up to a whole new world of cakes, cookies, croissants, eclairs and tarts. All of these become the areas of interest for future exploration.

Companies can leverage context as a powerful way to trigger intrinsic motivation, and direct it within the boundaries of strategic goals. As employees are placed into a context, created by the managers, and are given autonomy in action, the need for learning and personal growth creates a potential that drives them towards desires and goals, that are fully intrinsic, and yet are aligned with the direction of the management. This technique is successfully used by Netflix.[2]

A Further amplification of the intrinsic motivation is achieved by the provision of the right media for engagement—an enterprise culture with prominent Ideology, Fellowship and Ethos (Figure 11.2).

  • Fellowship is the medium for connecting with an open heart. Fellowship is paramount because it lets employees feel a strong sense of belonging to the group, despite differences in backgrounds and thinking routines. The latter is expected to increase in the future with the intensification of professional specialization. As the knowledge and mental models of the employees become more and more dispersed, an irrational emotional bond is needed to tie them together to reinforce teamwork.
  • Ideology is the medium for connecting with an open mind. While fellowship is a medium for irrational emotional connections, ideology is purely rational. It establishes the commonalities in thinking routines for individuals with highly diverse backgrounds. Ideology is the medium for the elements of meaning that is shared among employees, whether they are designers, engineers, managers or scientists. A strong ideology is capable of uniting individuals at a mental level.
  • Ethos is the medium for connecting with the open will, through commitment to the organization's mission. In the US military for instance, the necessary level of commitment is created through the formation of the Warrior's Ethos, manifested through the US Soldier's Creed.[3] The Creed states—among other things—the intent to 'always place the mission first,' 'never accept defeat,' and 'never leave a fallen comrade.'[4] The Creed creates rules of engagement that are specifically important in a rapidly changing environment—when everything else fails—to support strategic decision-making. One of the pre-requisites of a strong ethos is acceptance of one's role in the group, either as that of a leader or a follower—whether this structure is permanent or temporary. In cocreating organizations the skill to accept one's role is one of the key capabilities of the will. Ethos communicated in the form of a creed is the starting point in the development of these rules of engagement and the associated skills.

Open mind, open heart and open will can be considered as dimensions of

personal growth, that are developed through experiential knowledge, that is being conceptualized by the mind. Pure conceptual knowledge received from textbooks helps understand the world by systemizing and assigning meaning to experiences. We make sense of the physics of boiling water because it is part of our daily experience. We observed it while making tea. Many of us know how it feels on the skin or tongue. It burns. It leaves memories. It is easy to relate to theories that explain the phenomenon of a boiling point because of our own experiences of dealing with the substance.

As theories become more complex, we may be in situations in which conceptualizations do not go hand in hand with experience. In this case, the mind creates beliefs about the world, beliefs that are not backed up by experiential knowledge. Whether these beliefs are religious or scientific, they do no good to the individual in terms of expansion on the dimensions of personal growth. Conceptual knowledge about empathy does not make anyone feel how it is to sense another person. Knowledge about gut does not make anyone successful at making bets on the future events. One needs to start acting on these feelings in order to develop the faculties of own heart, mind and will—to be able to use them, rather than being aware that they can be used, or on the other hand being skeptical about it. Experiential knowledge provides the ground for learning. Conceptualization of this knowledge is important to achieve repetitive and valid use of the skills, uncovered through experiences.

Experiential knowledge received as a result of a completed engagement cycle results in the expansion of the Self, depicted with arrows on the diagram of the Framework of Intrinsic Motivation in Co-creating organizations (Figure 11.3).

More specifically, the following are the factors that lead to expansion:

  • Achievements: a completed engagement cycle leads to reinforcement of a mental program 'because I can,' which is empowering and results in higher self-esteem—the quality of the will—that leads to the development of willpower. The development of the willpower is most noticeable when individuals are connected to the source of the emerging future.
  • Destruction and creation:5 a completed cycle leads to the refinement an individual's understanding of the engagement process. Humans tend to anticipate the future development of the engagement
  • 5 The term is coined by John Boyd in Destruction and Creation. Fort Leavenworth, KS: US Army Command and General Staff College.
Complete framework of intrinsic motivation in co-creating organizations

Figure 11.3 Complete framework of intrinsic motivation in co-creating organizations

at the time when it starts. Reconnection and re-evaluation of the initial expectations, with the de-facto results of the engagement, helps create an understanding of the real complexity of the cycle. This further refines personal judgment about complexity for future engagements—this is a skill of the mind and the will. New experiences further shatter the persistent patterns of meaning causing their re-evaluation—the qualities of the mind—that leads to the development of perspectives.

Emotional connection: the development of empathy—an ability to understand and share the feelings of another person—by connecting with other individuals involved in the engagement cycle. It is most noticeable when the source of empowerment is the audience, affected by the engagement. In addition to empathy, developing the faculty of the heart helps understand one's own desires—leading to a higher quality engagement in the future.

  • Genetic heritage and cultural traditions: the categories that individuals have to work with in order to reach a higher state of self-awareness. Genetic Heritage is the individual's 'build' or set of qualities that one was born with, whether this person is aware of them or not. The phenomenon of build is easy to observe by looking at various breeds of dogs. Hounds or huskies are built to run. Terriers are small, active and fearless, which makes them suitable for hunting. Rottweilers are known for their intelligence and guarding instincts. A misuse or underuse of the natural abilities of these breeds is stressful for them, as it seems unnatural. Similarly to how the differences in breeds of dogs affect their behaviors, the differences in Genetic Heritage affect human ways of being. Individuals, especially those operating from safety spaces, are often not fully aware of their capabilities. Genetic Heritage is not necessarily an asset, it may also be a liability-something that one needs to learn to work with, in order to overcome natural weaknesses. In any case, the skill associated with the exploration of Genetic Heritage is Self Awareness.
  • Cultural traditions: a significant source of potential energy. It comprises an array of beliefs, behavioral programs and patterns of thinking, which are built by millions of people through multiple generations. Most often than not, they are conceptualizations with no concrete experiences backing them up. Awareness of these traditions, their exploration and transformation into experiential knowledge is another source of potential energy-through engagement cycles that result in all the above- mentioned learning outcomes.

A single iteration of the engagement cycle may differ in its timeline due to the scope of the project or the task that needs to be performed to accomplish the goal. A complete engagement cycle corresponds to a qualitative shift in the individual, leading to the formation of new experiences that can be treated as an evolution of the Self. Each engagement cycle increases the energy potential of the individual, expanding the self-outward as depicted (Figure 11.3) with arrows. This expansion is essential for organizations, since it provides access to the latent human capital of the employees. The expansion can be managed with four magnets: Initiation, Inspiration, Empowerment, and Context. In cocreating organizations these magnets are used by leaders of the co-creating communities-those with a higher degree of development on the dimensions of open mind, open heart, and open will. Ideology, Fellowship, and Ethos are designed to create the rules of engagement for everyone, which transforms the organization from a structural entity into a medium for engagement.

Co-creating organizations designed according to the principles outlined in this chapter have the following features:

  • • They value human capital more than structure—in fact, their structure is dynamic with the ad hoc leader-to-follower relationships, based on the nature of the specific projects that employee groups engage in.
  • • Connections between project teams span beyond the boundaries of the organization towards the marketplace, creating networks that incorporate employees, consumers and co-creating individuals outside of the organization.
  • • Co-creating organizations operate from the source of the emerging future. Their mission is related to making 'the next big thing' happen in the present moment, which is the reason why they exist. They make their mission tangible, and share the source with the network of their employees, consumers and co-creators.
  • • Less importance to structure does not mean chaos. Employees operate within the medium of Ideology, Fellowship and Ethos, which enables them to engage deeply with each other, with other groups inside the organization, and with the marketplace. They engage deeply, despite the differences in their backgrounds, beliefs, professional specializations, positions and titles. This aligns the goals, motivations and behaviors of the employees with the organization's mission.
  • • To increase the depth of engagement, employees develop the qualities of open will, open heart and open mind, participating in projects that are led by mentors, who focus their efforts on both getting the job done, and helping the employees achieve higher levels of personal growth.
  • • In addition to Vision, Mission, and Strategy, that are traditionally the focus of the Executive Suite, top management is concerned with and is required to design the medium for engagement-ideology, Fellowship and Ethos-which create the substance of the organization, forming bonds, and shaping the layouts of co-creating networks.
  • • The networked nature of co-creating organizations makes the organization-wide context fluid and dynamic. This lets the organization be the reflection of the marketplace, with change and evolution incorporated into its DNA.
  • • The management of the organizational context becomes another key activity of the Executive Suite. This activity requires the deepest level of engagement with the source of the emerging future, the organization itself, and the marketplace-the engagement possible only with the highest level of awareness and openness of the mind, heart, and the will.
  • • Co-creating organizations can be metaphorically regarded as living organisms. The level of skill and awareness of the executives should be such that they can lead change within the constraint of a living organism, while at the same time trusting that we are the creators of our own future.

  • [1] Manu, A. (2010). Disruptive Business: Desire, Innovation and the Re-design of Business. Farnham:Gower Publishing.
  • [2] Netflix (2009). Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility. Available at: (accessed: June 11, 2014).
  • [3] Loeb, V. (2003). 'Army plans steps to heighten "Warrior Ethos".' Washington Post, September8, A19.
  • [4] U.S. Soldier's Creed. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Available at: %27s_Creed (accessed: September 2, 2012).
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