How do you tap into intrinsic motivation when the assignments (or jobs) are boring or feel irrelevant? Andrew and David talk about the role of challenge in intrinsic motivation, including why being challenged is key to innovation and improvement.
0:00:02.7 Andrew Stotz: My name is Andrew Stotz and I will be your host as we continue our journey into the teachings of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Today, I'm continuing my discussion with David P. Langford, who has devoted his life to applying Dr. Deming's philosophy to education and he offers us his practical advice for implementation. Today's topic is the role of challenge in intrinsic motivation. David, take it away.
0:00:30.6 David P. Langford: Hello, Andrew. Good to be back.
0:00:33.2 AS: Good to see you.
0:00:33.3 DL: So how challenging is challenge, that's really what we're after about here today. So this is part four in a five-part podcast series we've been doing on intrinsic motivation, and so when I first encountered the concept of intrinsic motivation and it's actually when I was getting my undergraduate degree and I was so intrigued about it, but even like today, there was no training in it, there was no real... There was just, "Here it is, and yeah, intrinsic motivation is really good, so good luck with that." And all the training was around extrinsic motivation, how to motivate people, and it's the same today. I get calls and I get emails and stuff, and people always wanna know, can't we use bonuses and can't we use this and... You can use those kinds of things. I always think of the phrases that Dr. Deming had, he said, "The destruction has to start somewhere."
0:01:40.2 DL: And people would ask him about those kinds of things like, yeah, you could do that, but... You're on the road to destruction. So I've been trying to explain the five researched key elements of intrinsic motivation that Deming talked about, and how do you actually change the system, whether that's a business or a school or a classroom, or whatever it might be. So you have people becoming more intrinsically motivated, so we've gone through a couple. So we talked about control or autonomy in the situation, we talked a lot about, in podcast number two, about cooperation, and then podcast number three is support, and now we're gonna talk about the role of challenge in intrinsic motivation. So, it's not so easy as just to like flip a switch and say, "Okay, now we're gonna intrinsically motivate people." It is a complex thinking that has to take place in management to create an environment where people can be intrinsically motivated, right?
0:02:51.2 AS: Yeah.
0:02:51.9 DL: And usually, if you find people looking like they're not motivated, Deming talked about probably 94% to 98% of the reason they're not motivated to come to work, is the work itself, the job. So when we start to talk about challenge, you wanna think about the job itself, is the job that say you're having a student do... If I tell people, "Memorize these 10 spelling words for Friday," well, yeah, for some students, that could be really challenging, for others, it's just sheer boredom of, "Why are we doing this? Where did this come from? There's no real challenge to it." So, you can take just about anything that you have that you want people to do...
0:03:39.6 DL: And in fact, Deming was actually a master of this, he went into some of the most mundane manufacturing places in the world where people are just sitting all day long and doing the same darn thing all over and over, thousands of times, and then leaving and then, how do you motivate those people? Well, let's just pay them more, let's do this or that or the other thing. And it didn't work. And the Hawthorne Studies showed that, oh yeah, you could turn the lights off and productivity goes up, or you could turn the lights on, productivity... Or you have music, or you can do all these kinds of things, but what they discovered was that it was the fact that