Dan Pink on Management
I had the opportunity today to see Daniel Pink speak at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. It was a very good presentation. Although he stuck pretty closely to the material in his books, he’s a very engaging and entertaining speaker.
One of the things he said today that I loved is that (paraphrasing here) management is the perfect technology if all you want is compliance, but if you’re going for engagement, self-direction is required. I like the idea of management as a technology (Pink credited that idea to someone else – I’ll have to look up the name); when you think of it that way, it’s easier to identify potential uses and mis-uses.
In Drive he talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose being the roots of intrinsic motivation. Of the three, autonomy seems like the biggest challenge in a government organization like a public library. There’s an ingrained culture, plus laws and union rules that govern what we do and how we do it. Some of the ideas Pink discusses in his books (like the Results Only Work Environment) aren’t practicable in this setting. I don’t think it’s impossible, I just think it requires a little extra creativity to find ways to give people genuine autonomy over their work in this kind of organization. It’s an interesting problem, and one I’m sure I’ll be chewing on for a long time…