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Motivation 3.0 Is Required to Transition from Tribe Stage 3 to Tribe Stage 4

10 July 2014

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink says that when it comes to motivation, there's a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators -- which don't work and often do more harm than good. We need a system upgrade. And the science shows the way.

This new approach has three essential elements:
  1. Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives
  2. Mastery: The urge to make progress and get better at something that matters
  3. Purpose: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
According to Pink, humans evolve through three distinct stages of the Human Operating System:
  1. Motivation 1.0 presumes that humans are biological creatures, struggling to meet basic needs for food, security, and sex. This system is mainly good for survival struggles.
  2. Motivation 2.0 rests on Theory X of Human Motivation, when management assumes that employees are lazy, tend to avoid work, and best respond to rewards and punishments in their environment.
  3. Motivation 3.0 rests on Theory Y of Human Motivation, when management begins to understand that when it comes to intellectual work, employees are ambitious and self-motivated and will exercise self-control. This system presumes that humans seek purpose maximization no less than profit maximization.
In Tribal Leadership by David Logan, a tribe is a group of between 20 to 150 people (150 from Robin Dunbar's research, popularized in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point). A tribe is a basic building block of any large human effort, including earning a living. Tribes and their leaders create each other. People who belong to a tribe tend to recognize fellow tribe members easily. A small company is a tribe. A large company is a tribe of tribes. At a large company, several cultural stages may operate at the same time. Tribal leadership focuses on language and behavior within a culture.

According to Logan, tribes go through five distinct stages in of evolution:
  1. "Life Sucks." (In general.)
  2. "My Life Sucks." (In the background: The lives of others are OK.)
  3. "I'm great." (In the background: "You are not.")
  4. "We're great." (In the background: "They are not.")
  5. "Life is great." (There is no "they.")
And here comes the main Agile argument: It is unrealistic to transition from Stage 3 to Stage 4 in tribal evolution unless people are driven by Motivation 3.0.

Enterprise-wide Agile transformations, adoption of Kaizen culture, flattening organizational structures, building out cross-functional product development teams of skilled T-shaped individuals who think in terms of "We are the team, we are great," not in terms of "I am the great and what else can I do to become even greater" -- all this is the hallmark of a Stage 3-to-Stage 4 transition. This is what we want in Agile. And this is only possible if people are properly driven -- by Motivation 3.0.

Today, most companies still have Motivation 2.0 deeply seated in their cultures: monetary incentives (salary increases, bonuses), individual (versus team) performance assessments and appraisals that encourage people to think "I," not "We." This naturally makes people selfish and self-centered: An individual's overall happiness and success is much more tied to (is the function of) what that individual is/does then to what his/her tribe (team) is/does. Therefore, individuals are less eager to work together for a greater common good then they are to work for their own good. At the end of every day, each person still thinks about what he/she can claim as "my own" in order to achieve individual goals.

In order to move on to Tribe Stage 4, which is effectively the ideal environment for building Kaizen culture, adopting an Agile mind-set, and forming and norming highly performing Scrum/feature teams, people need to be properly motivated by their organizations. Companies must crank their motivation engines to version 3.0.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.7 (6 ratings)


Saravana Bharathi, CSP,CSM, 7/10/2014 12:06:28 PM
Great article Gene.
Ravi Srivastava, CSM, 7/12/2014 4:14:07 AM
Nice article. I have also read book Drive and found very interesting. Now I will read Tribal Leadership also.
Gene Gendel, CEC,CSP,CSM,CSPO, 7/17/2014 8:12:05 PM
I think this is a good idea Ravi. Then you will probably see the same relationship between the two writings. Thanks guys for your comments.
Robert Day, CSM, 8/6/2014 10:16:03 AM
Motivation 2.0 is based on experience in the early industrialisation phase of society, where the concept of the factory and the strict organisation of work patterns was a new concept that industrialists needed to enforce. 19th-century factories employed "knockers-up" to go around to workers' houses and wake them up to get into the factory on time. That evolved into time management systems, clocking on and clocking off and payment by the hour. It also resulted in the emergence of Type A and Type B management personalities.

You cannot run knowledge-based enterprises that way. When you rely on competent individuals to deliver your enterprise's products to market or initial deployment, treating them like factory fodder is not a route to success. You have engaged these people to use their intellect for your benefit, but then to apply Motivation 2.0 drivers to them works contrary to their individual skills and motivators. Sooner or later, they will kick back; if you're lucky, they'll only do it by leaving you. And looking around the world today, I suspect that we are still in a transitional phase from Theory X to Theory Y enterprises (and therefore, management).
Gene Gendel, CEC,CSP,CSM,CSPO, 8/12/2014 1:49:57 PM
Yes Robert....Sadly, most companies still use Modivation 2.0 (carrots and sticks) to get work done and intellectual work suffers from this.
Timon Fiddike, CSP,CSM, 8/22/2014 9:40:33 AM
Thank you Gene for this superb article! I've read "Tribal Leadership" twice and given it to several people.

I'm certain that the most productive scrum teams are stage 4 tribes and that this is one of the essential aspects of the huge success of scrum!
Anonymous, 9/11/2014 10:24:03 AM
Lovely article Gene, but you have made me add two more books to an already very long books-to-read queue.

Thanks :-)
Gene Gendel, CEC,CSP,CSM,CSPO, 10/4/2014 8:54:09 AM
Thanks:).. Sometimes, we read books by completely independent people and able to connect them in ways that produce pretty powerful tools - something that helps us influence minds of others.
Avi Schneier, CSM,CSPO,REP, 3/26/2017 9:17:21 PM
Great article Gene. My one gripe is about the use of the word "tribe" as the basic building block of any large human effort. This notion of "basic building blocks" comes from natural science. For example, the cell is the basic building block of the organism and atoms are the basic building blocks of matter. To say that a tribe is a basic building block is a fundamental error considering the definition of the term. While it could be argued that the basic building block is the individual, I think most of us in the world of Scrum usually say that the smallest unit in Scrum is the team. Therefore, it would be a better analogy to say that the basic building block of any large human effort is the family. Followed by the clan, then the tribe. This would also follow a correct sociological hierarchy of size and complexity. Back to the idea of the family as a Scrum team... what the average size for a family? In the developed world, it's between 2-3 (2.6 for the US). In the developing world, it's 5-6 (4.8-5.6). That's interesting considering that research shows that the ideal Scrum team size is 4.6 (or 5). So another reason for the success of Scrum is that the ideal team size is the same size as a family, allowing for a close emotional connection and desire to achieve shared goals. That is what makes the team the building block of the enterprise. A small company could be a clan, with larger ones being tribes and eventually tribes-of-tribes as you describe. Just my 2 cents.

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