Thursday, February 25, 2010

How the Microsoft MVP program uses the three elements of motivation from Drive

I've been pondering the key area's of Daniel Pink's newest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and I think Microsoft indirectly has stumbled upon the key three elements of true motivation as defined in Daniel's book which are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. For those that are skeptical hold on and see if I might be onto something.

One of the key principles of the Microsoft MVP program is the fact that the award is given to independent experts who are actively involved in community, you can see more about the program here. Microsoft is leveraging via the MVP award those that are independent from Microsoft yet give back in both time and energy to make Microsoft products and technology better. Microsoft MVP's experience the ultimate in autonomy, they don't work for Microsoft and are therefore free to say and express what they want about Microsoft's products and technologies with a few NDA exceptions. By Microsoft expressing their appreciation of these individuals they are tapping into one of the key motivations and what drives many Microsoft MVP's - autonomy in what they say but third party validation of the quality of what they are saying. In other words, what Microsoft MVP's have to say is worth listening too.

To quote a portion of the Microsoft MVP site "MVPs make exceptional contributions to technical communities, sharing their passion, knowledge, and know-how." Many within the IT Professional and Developer community consider Microsoft MVP's to be experts within their respective field. Microsoft naturally is awarding those they think are at the top of their game but I believe the Microsoft MVP award pushes those who have been awarded to meet an even higher standard. Indirectly, Microsoft nurtures the motivation of mastery within their MVP community which make their program even better. After returning from the Microsoft MVP Summit I can honestly say I am motivated to work harder and do more, I'm always impressed by the caliber of individuals I meet at the summit each year. Feeling like there is always more to learn, more to do, more skills to work on seems an ever present mantra within the Microsoft MVP community and this directly relates to mastery.

Finally, purpose. I think almost all MVP's feel a connection to community in what they do. MVP's are purpose driven animals who love to share, teach and pass on the information they have learned with others. I think that is one of the most impressive aspects of those who are awarded. When you look at the total number of people Microsoft MVP's have direct and indirect influence on no wonder Microsoft is interested in nurturing a unique relationship with their MVP's.

I by no means want to toot my own horn, there are plenty of Microsoft MVP's out there that do a far superior job in all areas than I but after reading Daniel Pink's book I really felt it struck home how I feel about the Microsoft MVP program. So, in many ways I believe Microsoft has started to utilize the principles in Drive - it would be interesting to know if those on the inside of Microsoft feel the same way about being an employee there.
- Ed

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