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Motivation is one of those things that can take us to great heights, but at times, as we all know, that motivation can be hard to find.

University lecturer, author and motivation design specialist Dr Jason Fox has spent years studying motivating teams and believes there’s a lot more to it when it comes to inspiring greatness in your team.

What really motivates people to do great work?

Dr Fox acknowledges that today, the pace of change is now happening faster than ever, and everyone seems ‘busy.’

To accommodate the pace of change and increasing consumer demands, businesses large and small will need to innovate.

And innovation and creativity will become the key differentiators between organisations that embrace change to remain relevant in the future – and those that fall by the wayside.

“Our world is changing faster than many of us can keep up with,” Dr Fox reflects.

“There are massive shifts that are changing and it requires us to be nimble, and to have a curiosity and empathy for what is emerging.”

People are motivated by progress

Rather than catchy phrases and the odd inspirational quote, Dr Fox argues people are inherently motivated by seeing real progress.

“The more visibility we can get around progress, the more motivated people are,” Dr Fox states.

Dr Fox also says that often people can get bogged down in what feels like progress – but it might actually just be ‘busy work’ type tasks that can include days filled with meetings, box ticking and emails.

“These [tasks] might make people feel ‘busy and productive’, but aren’t necessarily creating a meaningful form of progress,” he says.

Flipping the idea of motivation around

Thomas Edison famously said that “motivation is 99 per cent perspiration and 1 per cent inspiration.”

But what if we could make the 99 per cent that of perspiration inspirational?

“I think we’ve got it backwards,” says Dr Fox.

“Most of us try to motivate people from the inside out.

“We look at their attitudes, their goals, and their beliefs, and that carries with it an assumption there’s something that needs to be fixed internally.

“I don’t think that’s the case. I think you need to design the work to be motivating.”

How can you design work to be motivating?

More than 500 million people spend more than 700 billion hours playing online video games with a level of focused, collaborative engagement.

And the thing that drives the motivation in games is three things: goals, rules and feedback.

“Whether it’s a phone game, video game, sports game, whatever it is, it’s about goals, rules, and feedback.

“A good game is a goal-driven challenge, intense experience geared towards feedback,” Dr Fox says.

But he stresses the answer does not actually lie in turning work into a game.

“We’re simply looking at applying that lens because a good motivation scientist has empathy for the player.

“There’s a curiosity. It’s like, ‘well, okay, what’s the player thinking and feeling? What’s their motivation at the moment?’.

“And if they’re getting off track, how might we provide some feedback that might help to reinforce the behaviours that we want to see more of?”


Are you curious about how to create sustained motivation in your team? Dr Jason Fox will be headlining the upcoming Elite Retreat where he will delve into the goals, rules and feedback that can be applied in the workplace to unlock progress and creative thinking in teams.

You can find out more about Elite Retreat and the lineup of speakers and experts attending here.