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Motivation and Drive in Agile Teams

Fin Kingma talked about motivation and how the success of agile relies on driven people at the Agile Testing Days 2015.

You can distinct between external and internal motivation only. Kingma showed how you can have a continuous scale for motivation which is going from fully externalized to fully internalized. The scale that he presented contains five different kinds of motivation:

  • Forced motivation is when behavior is regulated and controlled, for instance with punishments and rewards. People are being told what to do. This is often pictured with a carrot and a stick.
  • Introjected motivation is where for example social pressure is used to have people behave in a certain way. Techniques can be used to control some people in a group and therewith trying to control the whole group.
  • Identified motivation is the social, selfless motivation. It is when you decide to help someone. For instance, to help a friend by doing their dishes.
  • Integrated motivation is about being driven by personal goals. The drive to learn will be intrinsically, but the goal you want to achieve will remain to be an external goal, until you achieve it.
  • Intrinsic motivation is when people are fully free to decide what to do. They do things because they enjoy the action, for them the activity itself is rewarding.

The last three types of motivation allow people to decide for themselves said Kingma, which for him is the main reason to focus on them.

Kingma mentioned that Simon Sinek inspired him to look for the purpose, the why, in motivation. Often people have a gut feeling why they should do something, which can motivate them and drive them to do things.

In his talk Kingma referred to frameworks and tests on motivation. Many of these tests focus on your actions and behavior, so the question will still remain on who you are as an individual. Dr. Steven Reiss focused his research on this question and came up with internal drives. Kingma explained how he learned that our actions and behavior are originating from internal drives, which reside on the deepest level of our personality. You can use the Reiss Profile test to find out what motivates you on an internal drive level. Understanding your internal drive means that you understand the deepest level of your personality.

Kingma combined his learnings on motivation into a matrix with questions (you can see the questions in the picture above). These are the questions that help him to understand motivation. He urged the attendees to read about motivation so that they can discover their own questions.

The agile manifesto suggests to "build projects around motivated individuals". The more people are intrinsically motivated, the more they are able to do creative work and solve complex problems. Such people get the job done said Kingma.

People who are intrinsically motivated know who they are and how they like to do things. The more self aware you are, the more control you can take over you own live. Successful Agile relies on motivated individuals said Kingma. You need to understand what drives people.

There are also drawbacks to intrinsic behavior. For instance it can lead to selfish behavior and a lack of direction. Kingma explained that this is where other motivation approaches like identified and integrated motivation can be used to complement intrinsic motivation.

Kingma described that he used various techniques to discover his own internal drive (he blogged about this in his post my identity). He conducted a diary study to track the things he did based on their internalization. He then started asking himself the questions that are shown in the Internalization model to dig deeper. He also took several personality tests, like Reiss Profile test and Belbin. With all that information he started writing down a first draft and iterating upon it. It took him several months, but in the end he managed to capture his own internal drive in a short paragraph.

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