Motivation is what moves a person from one condition, to another. The uncomfortable dissonance, or tension, between where we want to be as individuals, a group or as an organization to the desired condition. This tension moves us to take some action to move us to this new desired state. We have been in Twitter discussions with people that believe motivation is an extrinsic event, a manipulation of one person by another person to get them to do what the first person wants. As we indicated on Twitter, we disagree with this characterization of motivation. As an organization goes, it is in the best interest to ensure the people we hire are well motivated and intrinsically so, that is, they do not require disproportionate cajoling, but want to make their mark and do things that are in line with the business in ways that are consistent with the business’s philosophy.

22 ■ Continuous and Embedded Learning for Organizations

What Is Motivation

While we use Merriam-Webster for most definitions in this book, we will use the Oxford dictionary to define Motivation:

A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way, Desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm. A set of facts and arguments used in support of a proposal*

Motivation can be both internal (Intrinsic) and external (Extrinsic). Internal motivation is from within an individual and can be closely related to personal mastery, another one of the five disciplines written about in Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline.” He describes personal mastery as:

Learning to expand our personal capacity to create the results we most desire, and creating an organizational environment which encourages all its members to develop themselves toward the goals and purpose they choose.*

There is a connection between motivation and personal mastery. These are aligned via the desire to obtain some goal or objective (tension) and action taken is taken to close the gap which will require personal mastery.

What moves you?

Figure 1.8 What moves you?

External motivation comes from external forces such as rewards, a paycheck, and/or even just encouragement. Tills type of motivation can and is commonly confused with manipulation. While attempting to motivate an individual or group could be considered manipulation, this is not necessarily so. A relationship between the objective and required activities and the individual or group’s internal motivation can be established with truth and that is not manipulation but buy-in.

The Motivation Masters

For decades, there has been considerable research into motivation. Trying to make an environment that maximizes human potential, is important for businesses, In many industries the human talent can be a significant business cost, and more importantly, it is the source of creativity and the propulsion of the of the organization towards its objective. It should be clear then, that to maximize this effort it is important to understand motivation. Well motivated individuals and team members will be productive, not so motivated, will be a drain on the teams and the organization.

Maslow and Ziglar

When most people think of Maslow, they immediately think of a triangle that is built of blocks representing human needs and desires. While Maslow did arrange human needs in a hierarchy of pre-potency he also stated that the order of these needs and the amount needed to be satisfied before the next need emerges is individually driven and the order he listed them in was just a basic outline. This basic outline was generated to provide a framework for future research in the absence of any

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is cognitively satisfying

Figure 1.9 Maslow's hierarchy of needs is cognitively satisfying.

other theory at the time.[1] [2] One might think that this is an unusual way to start a conversation about the Theory of Human Motivation and how it applies to people, projects, and organizations, but it is a prime example how everyone, group, or group of groups have their own hierarchy of needs related to their specific motivation and needs.

What we can garner from Maslow’s work is a basic outline of things that provide motivation to people? He does not delve into how this works with groups or groups of groups, but we know from studies done of “group think” there is some shift in an individual when they are part of a group, both good and bad. Managers and project managers need to understand the basic drivers for motivation on individual and group levels, before we can effectively apply actions to influence the situation. When we talk about Maslow, we like to link him with Zig Ziglar because Ziglar believed that to motivate you needed to know what the other individual or group goals and desires are and show them how what needs to be done will help them reach that objective. Zig Ziglar did not dissect the specifics about what motivated people, but focused on the relationship between seller or buyer, worker, and manager (project manager). Looking at these two together gives both the what and the how for a basic motivation framework.

One of Ziglar’s best quotes is, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”1 This may not sound like what a manager, project manager or company should think because it sounds like it could cost either time or money, and probably both. This type of thinking is predicated on an assumption that helping others get what they want or desire to achieve, does not actually align with the project’s, group’s, or organization’s goals, or is not worth the time and effort spent.

Herzberg and Festinger

Herzberg’s two-factor theory is also referred to as the hygiene factor due to its split approach to motivation. Herzberg theorized that satisfaction and dissatisfaction were affected by different factors and thus could not be measured on the same scale.[2] Hygiene factors were those that pertained to the job and were comprised of supervision, interpersonal relationships, work conditions, salary, and company policy. It is easy to see how these items are primarily physiological but have some extension into the psychological realm. The motivational factors were such items as recognition, a sense of achievement, growth or promotion opportunities, responsibility, and

Motivation may errode over time, like taking a shower, we must take recurring action to make things smell better

Figure 1.10 Motivation may errode over time, like taking a shower, we must take recurring action to make things smell better.

meaningfulness of the work itself The motivational factors discussed by Herzberg are of a psychological nature only. According to Herzberg’s theory, hygiene factors cannot produce motivation, only satisfaction or dissatisfaction.'

If we apply the two-factor theory to a work environment we can see how we could have a satisfied worker that is not motivated or a dissatisfied worker that is motivated or for that matter any combination of these variables. The point behind this is to know that there is a difference between the two (motivation and hygiene) and identifying specific actions that affect, providing focus, for example, to not work on a hygiene issue when it is motivation issue. We would recommend two YouTube videos: Jumping for the Jelly Beans a discussion with Fredrick Herzberg through the BBC part one and two.

Motivation can also be facilitated through actions taken by the organization, setting the work environment in a way that encourages the team members. This is discussed at further in the section on learning with B.F. Skinner.


Festinger is associated with the development of cognitive dissonance theory, which states a situation that involves differing attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors produces discomfort and this discomfort leads to their alteration to restore balance.1 This sounds like the theory of change where there is tension between the current state of a situation and the desired state of that situation causing some action to bring the situation more in line with the desired state thus alleviating the tension. When you examine the study done by Festinger in which 71 people were assigned a dull and meaningless task and then paid either one dollar or twenty dollars to inform a second party that the task was interesting, those paid only one dollar to lie experienced dissonance and the only manner to overcome this was to believe the task was really meaningful, whereas the people paid twenty dollars had more of a reason to turn the pegs and thus had less or no dissonance.' Applying this theory we can see how many decisions may have some form of dissonance, the manifestation is different, and the manner in which these are resolved (internal or external) is what we are looking for with people.

We will also look at another part of dissonance called “effort justification.” This is when it is easier to convince ourselves that a task we have been employed to execute, actually holds meaning or worth even when it is determined to hold less value or meaning than we originally surmised. To minimize or alleviate the dissonance we convince ourselves of the activity’s worth.1 This attempt to remove or reduce the dissonance (effort justification) causes people to fight against change or to hinder communication as different archetypes or logical fallacies are employed to justify the position and reduce the dissonance. The key is to not cause more dissonance, but to show the individual or group how their effort has allowed for the change or improvement thus providing them a different form of justification instead of rationalization and resistance to the change.

Kurt Lewin

In 1936 a group of researchers led by Kurt Lewin developed many different aspects pertaining to leadership. For the leadership equation we are attempting to show that the experiences provided to the employee are a significant driver for behavior. Motivation and behavior are inexplicably linked through the experiences of the individual. This is predominately because everyone uses past experiences to initially assess most situations because unfamiliar situations commonly cause some form of reticence or anxiety. Therefore, to elevate this anxiety experiential association is employed. Leadership Equation

В = f (P, E): where В is behavior, P is person, and E is environment.[4] [5]

This should clear up all our questions about leadership and project development, right? What if we further dissect Lewin’s equation?

If we say that P = f (Exp) (MM) (A): where Exp is the individual’s personal experiences, MM is the Mental Model of the individual, and A is the individual’s Attitude.

And then we say that E= f (P2) (GB+GTX) (WC): where P2 is other people influences, GB is Group Behavior, GT is Group Think (x is the number of people in the group), and WC is the actual working conditions.

Having stated all this, we can now modify Lewin’s equation to be:

Now we can further break down some of the person portion of the equation if we assume:

1. Mental model is a function of experience (Exp), attitude (A), and desire to learn (DJ:

  • 2. Attitude is a function of experience (Exp), environment (E), and treatment
  • (T):

So thus far we could surmise that behavior is predominately experience and attitude. What if we go further? Consider your experience, for example, have you noticed how people respond to group behavior and group think? Are these responses based mainly upon experience and attitudes?

Experience is a long term or require considerable time to develop and therefore we will call that a slowly sloping curve. However, attitude is a rapid response item, a quick changing curve, directly tied to treatment, therefore a change in treatment, causes directly proportional to motivation. Desire a quick change (relatively speaking) we should focus on improving the treatment (perceived or real) of our personnel, but for the long haul we should focus on developing good experiences for our people.

We are sure this clears up any questions you may have had about leadership, right? This is why people have studied what makes a good leader and why they are

28 ■ Continuous and Embedded Learning for Organizations successful for so long. There is no simple answer, but there are commonalities, most of which we can gather from the equations above.


Like Hertzberg, Alderfer grouped Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into large sections: Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (ERG). Even though Maslow did not believe that the lower needs must be satisfied prior to the next higher need becoming a new motivational factor, though many people believed that was the intent of his work based upon how he had laid out his theory. However, Alderfer clearly stated that at any point, any need could be satisfied and the driving point behind motivation is the obtainment of one if not more of these needs. Whether the division is five, like Maslow, two, like Hertzberg, or three like Alderfer each comes with their own specific issues for validation or rebuttal, is not the point of this book to discuss. The key point is that needs, hygiene, relatedness, or motivation are subjective to the individual, and it is only through knowledge of the individual and their specific hierarchy of needs will any true motivation occur.


Unlike the people we have previously discussed Vroom looked to the cognitive side of the motivational process with the Expectancy theory of motivation. In his theory the motivational factor (unfortunately abbreviated MF) for behavior is based upon the individual’s perception of obtaining the desired outcome.’ The equation he devised is:

Expectancy is the individual’s perception of the relationship between their effort and performance. This perception is primarily based upon the individual’s experiences, personality, self-confidence, and emotional stated Instrumentality is the individual’s assessment of the probability that they will obtain a performance level that will facilitate some reward.'

Valence is the value the individual associates with the outcome., [6] [7]

Vroom’s Expectancy theory of motivation is based on research done at the University of Michigan in 1957 by Basil Georgopoulos, Gerald Mahoney, and Nyle Jones that focused on the conscious and rational aspects of motivation.' Using their findings Vroom theorized that this was a manner in which an individual could logically ascertain the probability of a need being met through the effort they were exerting toward a specific task.


There are countless theories surrounding motivation and other psychology based theories, some of which have passed the test of time and some that were debunked.' We have attempted to show a link between the experiences that are provided to people through the workplace and their level of motivation. We also explored the “Leadership Equation” to show how the significance of the experience factor. This was done to emphasize that the experiences provided in the workplace have an enormous impact upon motivation and leadership qualities, and the perception that people have of both.

  • [1] Barnes, M. (n.d.). A. H. Maslow (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Retrieved August15, 2018, from * Zig Ziglar - 91 quotes, (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2018, from
  • [2] Herzberg, F. (1965). The New Industrial Psychology. Industrial and Labor Relations Review,18(3), 364-376. doi: 10.2307/2520909
  • [3] Herzberg, F. (1965). The New Industrial Psychology. Industrial and Labor Relations Review,18(3), 364-376. doi: 10.2307/2520909
  • [4]'
  • [5] Lewin, K., Heider, F., & Heider, G. M. (1936). Principles of topological psychology. United States,NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • [6] * Lunenburg, F. C. (2011). Expectancy Theory of Motivation: Motivating by AlteringExpectations. International Journal of Management, Business, and Adminstration, 15(1), 1-6.Retrieved August 20, 2018, from Journal Volumes/Lunenburg, Fred C Expectancy Theory Altering Expectations IJMBA vl5 N1 2011.PDF
  • [7]
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