• Alex Reizer

Moving Motivators

Updated: Jun 5


Moving Motivators

What's the difference between the 2 rows of cards? Language, size, sure. But one difference is the most meaningful to me.


The bottom one is much more worn out.


It's worn out because I've been using it since 2018. What are these funny cards? Why did they help me and all teammates I worked with? Let's break it down. These cards are called "Moving Motivators", they're part of a practice of Agile management, and they rely on a synthesis of the works of multiple authors, done by Jurgen Apello in his book, Management 3.0.


They combine:

  1. Self-determination theory, by Deci and Ryan, which talks of 3 intrinsic, universal, innate and psychological needs - competence, autonomy and relatedness.

  2. The work of Steven Reiss ("Who Am I?") who highlights 16 basic desires, such as status, order, acceptance, curiosity and more, and calls it the "10 desires of team members".

  3. "Drive" by Daniel Pink, as it speaks of the same subject

Why should you care? Because part of leadership is mentoring, coaching, teaching and advancing your teammates. You can't do so through extrinsic motivation (alone), such as bonuses, salary, etc.

Instead, you need to understand their intrinsic motivation.


Here's how the practice it goes:

  1. You place the cards in order of importance (to you!)

  2. You imagine a certain change in your work life, and move the cards up or down, depending on whether it would have a positive, or negative impact on the intrinsic motivation

The difference is - we didn't imagine (when doing this with team members). We said "go back a month or two. Think of the changes that took place. Let's write them down. How has each affected you?" I didn't imagine as well. I was constantly asking myself where I was at each point. How has it affected me. I don't think I'm a self-psychologist, but more often than not, being able to phrase WHY I was happy or unhappy, helped me understand what I should do. It was a much deeper root cause than "event X happened" or "someone moved my cheese". I love how seemingly unrelated things shine a new light on process/behavior work at organizations. The singer Jewel Kilcher, simply known as Jewel, grew up in amazingly tough conditions. She used to keep a journal, where she'd map what she was doing and how it made her feel. This way, she could figure out what might make her happy, and what she should stop doing, by finding the root-cause. It's this sort of mindfulness self-analysis (that shouldn't take up too much of your day) that may help you evolve. I could say to myself "My curiosity finds no outlet" or "My influence is diminishing", and so could every other teammate and then decide what we should do about it, instead of just having a bad or a good feeling with no concrete ability to understand what exactly caused it and how it could be replicated. It could also help someone find out if they got it right or not. If someone said they value order over all, and their work was chaotic, we could revisit it in the next session, and help them figure it out. It wasn't to place blame, but by helping teammates find what truly motivated them, we could help them be happier and derive greater value from their occupation.


Some people loved to dive into the "bowels" of QA "hell" and figure out WHY someone was broken. Why did they love it? What else would they love? Would they be able to move on to automation, or would they find their place as a product owner, or something completely different.


On the other hand, why did some teammate lose that edge and became "complacent" all of a sudden? How could we "retain" them and help them find their spark? If we focused just on the symptoms, we'd be missing out on what happened to their intrinsic motivation and why it was disrupted. Try this practice out, you can print out the Moving Motivators cards for free and give it a go! Let me know in the comments what you thought.

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