top of page

From Inside

It is interesting to investigate the core message of my book "Safety from Inside". This is brilliantly unravelled by Daniel Pink in his book "Drive". Scientifically substantiated and hardly found or recognized in the business world. Many who read the following statement will be surprised:

"When money is used as a reward for an activity, people lose their intrinsic interest in the activity."

This goes against motivating by rewarding!

There are three forms of #motivation. Motivation 1.0 is the motivation to survive. No discussion about it. Motivation 2.0 is the "roots and sticks motivation" and based on control. Today it is still widely used in business worldwide. Also called X behaviour (eXtrinsic). The third, Motivation 3.0 is I-behaviour (Intrinsic). Motivation arising from the fact that people "want" something themselves.


On October 31, 2009, Microsoft pulled the plug on MSN Encarta, its CD-ROM and online encyclopedia, which had been on the market for 16 years. Meanwhile, Wikipedia - the second model - had become the largest and most popular encyclopedia in the world. Wikipedia is run entirely by tens of thousands of people who write and edit articles for pleasure who don't get paid a penny. Moreover, no manager is involved.

While Motivation 2.0 is more advanced and ambitious than 1.0, it's still not exactly an uplifting system. It assumes that humans are not much different from horses in the end - that we get them in the right direction by holding out a tastier carrot or by swinging a sturdy club.

But what this operating system lacked in improvement, it makes up for with effectiveness. It functioned well - extremely well. Until it stopped working.

Researchers Lakhani and Wolf identified many different motives, but found that:

"Pleasure-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on a project, is the strongest and most common driver."

For routine work, work that occurs less and less because it is automated away, motivation 2.0 works. For work that requires creativity, problem-solving skills, and innovation, roots and sticks do more damage than it brings. Conditional rewards - if you do this, you get that - have that negative effect. Why? For if-then rewards, people have to give up some of their #autonomy. Careful analysis of the effects of reward reported in 128 experiments leads to the conclusion that tangible rewards often have a significant negative effect on intrinsic motivation. Financial #incentives negatively impact overall performance. If-then rewards usually do more harm than good. By ignoring the ingredients of real motivation (autonomy, mastery and meaning), they limit what a person can achieve.

A startling study revealed the following: It involved 23 professional artists in the United States who worked both on and off commission. They asked the artists to randomly select ten works they had created. The research team gave the artworks to a panel of established artists and curators who knew nothing about the research and asked the experts to rate the pieces for creativity and technical competence. The commissioned works were judged to be significantly less creative than the non-commissioned works, while the panel saw no difference in the technical quality of the two groups. Moreover, the artists themselves indicated that they felt much more limited when they worked under commission than when they did not.

The danger of goals and rewards

Goals that people set for themselves and are meant to master are usually healthy, but #goals set by others - sales targets, quarterly earnings, standardized test scores, etc. - can sometimes have dangerous side effects. Significant evidence shows that goal setting can also encourage unethical behaviour.

Goals can cause organizations systematic problems because they lead to a narrowed focus, unethical and addictive behaviour, a stronger tendency to take risks, less willingness to cooperate and a decrease in intrinsic motivation.

Rewards are addictive. Once a conditional #reward is offered, someone will expect it again and again when he or she has to perform a similar task. That, in turn, forces the principal to use rewards over and over again. The prospect of rewards activates the nucleus accumbens, increasing the likelihood that individuals will trade risk-avoiding behaviour for risk-seeking behaviour.

Rewards can limit the breadth of our thinking. But extrinsic motivators - especially tangible if-then rewards - can also reduce the depth - of our thinking. Fixation on a direct reward can deteriorate performance over time. What the previous examples - unethical behaviour and addictive behaviour - may have in common is that they focus entirely on the short term. Addicts want a new dose quickly, regardless of its long-term harmful effects.

Wortels en Stokken

The Seven Deadly Risks:

  1. They can crush intrinsic motivation

  2. They can reduce performance

  3. They can destroy creativity

  4. They can suppress good behaviour

  5. They can promote deceit, laxity and unethical behaviour

  6. They can become addictive

  7. They can encourage short-term thinking

Therefore, consider intangible rewards. Compliments and positive feedback are much less harmful than money and trophies.

Coal and Sun

Type X-behaviour can be compared to coal, type I-behaviour to the sun.

Coals are finite and harmful, the sun is infinite and beautiful.

An important piece of Type I-insight: the questions that so many people ask, namely: "How do I motivate others to learn? To work? Do their duties? Taking their medicines?" are the wrong questions. They are wrong because they imply that motivation is something imposed on people rather than something people take care of themselves.


Autonomy is one of three basic human needs (besides competence and connectedness). And of those three, autonomy is the most important: it is the sun around which the planets of this theory revolve. Those who are autonomously motivated are fully aware of their own will and free choice. According to behavioural science studies, autonomous motivation is conducive to better conceptual understanding, higher grades, greater perseverance at school and during sports, higher productivity, less burnout and a higher degree of psychological well-being. Companies that promote autonomy grow four times faster than the audit-oriented companies and had two-thirds less turnover.

That does not alter the fact that money for I-motivation is not important. If you don't pay people enough, you can lose them. But other than that, money is not a motivator. Other things are much more important. And several forward-looking companies have discovered that autonomy is one of those things. To ensure a good basic salary so that employees are no longer distracted by money. By paying good people a little more than was customary in the market, companies attract greater talent, reduce turnover and improve productivity and morale. With higher wages, you can therefore lower the costs of your company. This method can be an elegant way to get around if-then rewards, address concerns about inequity, and get the topic of money off the table. You also allow people to concentrate on the work itself. Other economists have shown that a high base salary is more conducive to performance and commitment to the organization than an attractive bonus structure.

Safety from Within

And now back to #safety. Safety in itself is often an inhibiting force (of course not for those who have read "Safety from Within" 🤣 ) because (it seems) that time and money must be spent to take risk-limiting measures. However, the above discussion of X- and I-behaviour clearly shows that it is very important that people are self-responsible and are highly involved for and with their own safety (and their colleagues) and that measures are not imposed by the HSE-department. If necessary, Motivation 2.0 is even worse for safety than for other activities, which makes 3.0 of even greater importance!

Employees can be "nudged" by safe exemplary behaviour. And should be facilitated both through consultation, questions and answers (note: to see #risks must be developed, they are quite often not obvious) and with means and by wanting to work in an intrinsic, risk-steering way, that is to say, that they choose consciously for which risks measures must be taken and which risks are acceptable to take.


bottom of page