What Really Motivates Us? Insights for your Tech Team

Over the last month or so, a large number of authors in my RSS reader called attention to Dan Pink’s ‘Drive’ video


Over the last month or so, a large number of authors in my RSS reader called attention to Dan Pink’s ‘Drive’ video


  • Props to Cool Infographics (home of the Caffeine Poster!) with the post that introduced me to the video. Key insight from Randy Krum: is this a video? A well done presentation? Or another innovative infographic?
  • Global Nerdy (a site with style and substance – content does not match the title!) calls out that this idea has direct applicability to work in software development – really, any systems design, development, and/or implementation work.
  • TechDirt draws a connection between the message of the video and Shirky’s ideas around cognitive surplus – and how current incentive structures drive down creative output.
  • Aggregated Intelligence, Lifehacker, and Anecdote just linked to the video, no deep insights – just more votes on the relevance of this video!
  • And leave it to Coding Horror to pull the deepest insights (and the best post title). Atwood is a great writer, and draws a great straight line from the video’s call for a driving vision, to specific examples from his experience in building Stack Overflow.

With so many brilliant minds pointing me in this direction, I had to watch it – and yes, I was impressed by the presentation style and the content. It struck all the same chords that were called out above – and got me to stretch my presentation style a bit.

I hold quarterly meetings with my groups in IT, designed to continually invigorate and reinforce communications up, down, and across the business and IT organizations. And – free lunch for all, plus a chance to regularly hone my presentation style, and try out new things.

I have long been loathe to demonstrate software or do any sort of “live” presentation in front of a crowd – the silence can be deafening when Murphy strikes. But I like the message of the video – the style and length just fit nicely with the general themes I was covering this past quarter. So I took the chance and embedded the link in a PowerPoint slide, and ended my slides with the video. What did I learn?

  • Always test the internet connection beforehand – make sure there are no unfortunate proxy logins to get past
  • Do NOT rely on the speakers in your laptop (I had to scramble for some external speakers – thanks, Andy!)
  • Never underestimate the ability of a technical audience for introversion, insight – and outspoken feedback!

I did get some nice responses from my team – not in the group setting, but a couple of folks came to me afterwards, marvelling about how they had been thinking about the same ideas recently. A double win – new presentation tool, and new insights into the creativity and openness of my team!


Jim MacLennan
Jim MacLennan is Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at IDEX Corporation, a Fortune 1000 manufacturer that sells highly engineered products in a variety of markets worldwide. MacLennan has responsibility for Corporate IT services for all IDEX business units, and also drives innovation through initiatives that leverage Information and Technology as growth drivers for the industrial manufacturing space. He regularly publishes his observations and insights on the intersection of business and technology - check out his work at www.cazh1.com.