October 20, 2014

Personal Motivation

Having watched Dan Pink’s video on motivation, I thought I’d try out the concepts on colleagues and friends. I have asked about 10 (ish) people what motivations they have and seen how they fit into the three categories of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

What I have discovered is that these 3 groups help enormously to focus on the real underlying motivators. I had to use the 5 why’s approach to get to the underlying root cause.

I decided to try it out on myself and found a complete re-focusing on my tasks. I threw away my task list and did this instead. I now feel highly motivated and have a lot less on my plate.

For example: My task list went something like this:

1. Install Visio on laptop
2. Prepare spreadsheet for presentation
Etc. etc. etc.

I found this list uninspiring and a hassle.

I redefined my day with the following:



Have a growing company which provides a sustainable income and is an asset with long term growth


Contribute to the long term adoption of Agile as a source of values and organisational process in large organisations and society as a whole


Master Agile as a whole and focus specifically on Agile Architecture


Choose my own direction, level of working, style and whom I work for and have the freedom to express myself within the roles

Life Balance:

Have a lovely home, where I can spend time, make friends, be with the children and provide learning and stability for the family. Be able to go on holiday each year.


1. Create a London (and worldwide?) centre for excellence in Scaling Agile
2. Be part of a huge network of like minded and interested people
3. Provide consultancy, training and staff to organisations and individuals

The enablers I thought were worth mentioning as they came out on the journey along the 5 whys. They were not the root cause though.

Change in state of mind

I never did install Visio on the laptop and I haven’t needed it yet. Instead, I look at this vision every time I do something and feel uplifted that I am working towards these motivators. If the task doesn’t fit one of them, I don’t do it.

This emphasises the importance of Vision in teams and for the organisations. The vision should be motivating and clear. This must come from the envisioning stage (time-boxed) or sprint 0 and feeds into the implementation cycles. We can then build the motivation that is required for high performing teams.


Simon Powers
Simon Powers is an Agile Coach specialising in large scale transformations and agile adoption. He has a background in very large enterprise architecture which has led on to organisational design and agile process refinement. Simon is the founder of Adventures with Agile.