About motivation

05 June 2010 motivation

Does anybody know why we do what we do? Why do we wake up everyday and go to our workplaces? It seems that the most obvious reason is money. We need money to function in the society. We need some funds to make some plans, if you wish.

It turns out that not only money motivate people to do their job. OSS is the proof. Well, yes, we can make money from open source projects. And a lot of companies do this already, but it’s not the point. The point is that there is another force motivating people. Most good programmers like some of my colleagues and buddies work not because of money, but because they feel passion to write programs. Money is a required but not sufficient part of motivation.

Daniel H. Pink some time ago gave an excellent talk about motivation factors and how to use them in work process.

Some companies, like Atlassian, show outstanding results in the process of self organizing their employees. They simply said to their developers:

next 24 hours you could do whatever you want with whoever you want, but you should show results to the company within next 24 hours.

Looks familiar, right? Yes, it’s some sort of Google’s 20% culture.

Nevertheless, so called FedEx days was born (like FedEx Ground day-definite delivery, I believe):

Overall, I’d say we did pretty damn well. People built some kick ass projects, we all learnt about new technologies, and everyone seemed to have a good time. […] Will we repeat the exercise? Definitely. I think it was great thing to do - developers got to play, exercise their minds a little, build some fun stuff and learn about new technologies.

There are a lot of really fun things provided by Atlassian FedExes. Which makes me believe in the words if Daniel Pink:

Pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.

There is no need to pay people more that that. Instead of raising salary you would better invest more aggressively in creating an attractive and efficient work environment. If you work in a IT company give your team some time to share experience and thoughts about new technologies, provide really good hardware for your employees (it’s so cheap anyway), and, holy crap, do not ever shape an Internet connection. I mean it, never.