Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Green and Dan Pink's Drive

Dan Pink has a new book out: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He's good. You should read him.

This new book is a great explanation of how Green works, where it will work best, and how to keep it working.

Dan says, after much research and with great evidence, that Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are the best motivations/ incentives/conditions for solving 21st century problems – the tricky, complicated problems that require new solutions. He says that the old “carrot and stick” approach to motivating workers (incentivization – and I add regulation) is best for 20th century tasks that have a narrow focus and a clear solution.

Green has neither a narrow focus nor a clear solution. Green is all about applying new (or long unused approaches) to complex problems. Green is a big-time 21st century challenge and though we may hope that incentives for saving energy and mandates for carbon reduction will help move the market, it’s clearly going to take more than that. It’s going to take Drive.

Green requires Autonomy because it’s a do-it-yourself program. There are lots of guidebooks out there, but few on the hard Green topics of clean energy and Cradle-to-Cradle solutions. We all must constantly adapt our green practice to meet the demands of each situation. Most of the time we’re making it up as we go along.

Green encourages Mastery because it has a feedback loop that makes it addictive. Once you recognize opportunities to reduce waste and pollution in one situation, you can’t keep from recognizing them everywhere. And once your brain releases the first endorphins associated with your first green achievement, you can’t help but try to recreate that success.

And, of course, Green is its own Purpose.

So, if you’re a manager and are hoping your staff will increase its green practices and develop greener solutions, figure out how to harness Drive and encourage Dan’s three conditions associated with creating it.

If you’re a government official looking to encourage Green business and practice, use incentives and mandates for the narrowly-focused problems with clear solutions, and fund the folks with Purpose so that they have the Autonomy to develop the Mastery to solve our really complex Green problems.

And if you’re a Greenie looking for a way to explain to others why you do what you do, just explain that you have more Drive.

Dan's website and book link:

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