A Motivation Model

One of the biggest factors in determining the success of a project is the motivation of the people working on it.

Published on 6 Mar 2024

I firmly believe that motivation is the cornerstone of a team's success. Years ago, I stumbled upon Daniel Pink's motivation model outlined in his book "Drive", and it has stayed with me ever since.

Pink's model identifies three crucial pillars:

  1. Purpose
  2. Autonomy
  3. Mastery

Over the past few years, I've consistently referred back to this model to pinpoint my team's most significant needs and where my focus should lie. And it's paid off. Since adopting this approach, I've consistently enhanced team engagement scores and boosted overall motivation.


Let's start with Purpose. It's about understanding the 'why' behind what we do. When team members have a clear sense of purpose and understand how their work contributes to a greater cause, they are naturally more motivated and driven to excel.

This understanding often begins with the broader company vision. However, I've found that to truly grasp your purpose, you need a more detailed experience vision. A classic example is AirBnb's "Project Snow White." It helps a large team grasp how they fit into the bigger picture without getting bogged down in details.

If there are significant gaps in all three areas, purpose is where I would start first.


Providing team members with the freedom to make decisions, take ownership of their work, and chart their own course fosters a sense of empowerment and responsibility. It's about trusting in their abilities and allowing them the space to thrive.

Once I align with team members on vision and goals, I trust them to experiment, take risks, and learn from their experiences. Granting them autonomy allows their creativity to flourish and propels their success.


Mastery revolves around continuously improving and developing our skills. Designers are motivated when they have opportunities to learn and grow. I give my team access to training, workshops, and resources to enhance their design skills. I encourage them to set personal goals and provide feedback and recognition for their achievements.

When I first realized there was a gap in this area, it was related to ambiguity in expectations at each team member's level and how they could progress to the next. Creating a levels framework made a huge difference. It served as a tool we could use in 1:1s and performance reviews to align on expectations and set goals, allowing many on the team to successfully achieve promotions.

For me, these three pillars serve as a compass, guiding my efforts to keep my team motivated and engaged. By regularly assessing where the team's needs lie and focusing my attention on these areas, I've witnessed tangible improvements in team engagement scores and overall motivation.