My experience playing ‘Moving Motivators’

Moving motivator cards

Quite recently, I have played Management 3.0’s Moving Motivators with my team. This game is centered around 10 intrinsic motivations: Curiosity, Honor, Acceptance, Mastery, Power, Freedom, Relatedness, Order, Goal, and Status. While I played the game in the time slot for our Sprint Retrospective, I did not play it for that purpose.

Why not? Well, usually the Retrospective is used to fulfill one of the deliverables of the scrum framework: improve the process (the other deliverable is potentially shippable software). It focuses on what went right or wrong. Or things to start doing, stop doing, or continue doing. (You can read more on retrospectives on this web page.) I don’t think Moving Motivators is suited to answer any of these questions. Still, I ‘sacrificed’ a retrospective in order to play this game, and it was definitely very useful and worthwhile.

My team is a bit of a motley crew. While based in Australia (and possibly because of it) we have several different nationalities within our team. We have team members from Australia, Taiwan, China, France, and the Netherlands (that’s me). And although we seem to be working together quite well, I did notice sometimes our communication isn’t all too clear. Also, we don’t necessarily know each other that well, and there may be cultural issues underlying certain difficulties in our communication.

So, I wanted to play Moving Motivators mainly to get to know each other a little bit better. Find out what makes each of us ‘tick’: which of the intrinsic motivations determine how we role? And it turns out Moving Motivators answers that question quite nicely.

My team playing Moving Motivators

After I had the cards printed and laminated, I basically followed the steps described on the Moving Motivators web page (in hindsight, I deviated slightly). As a first step, we all laid out the motivation cards based on our personal valuation: most important to the left, least important to the right. Then, each of the team members got a couple of minutes to explain his choices. Several people noted that it’s actually much harder than we thought. Sometimes the difference between certain motivations is only very small. On the other hand (and I found this very surprising), for some people certain motivations are not important at all. They simply don’t care about them. So, while we initially thought all motivations would be important but some would be more important than others, it turned out some motivations were deemed completely irrelevant.

As a second step, each of us determined the current fulfillment for each of the motivations; 0 (zero) for no fulfillment at all, 8 for utter fulfillment. We used this as a baseline for the last step.

The last step involved determining changes to our motivations based on a change. In our case we focused on a pending organisational change that will have impact on our team. Now, since the change is still to happen, all we could do was guess how it would impact our motivations. Interestingly, certain motivations went down, but for a few persons the motivation Curiosity actually went up. They reasoned that they couldn’t quite know how the change would impact them, but were actually curious to see how. To me, it shows a certain open-mindedness, which surprised me in a pleasant way!

Some of my personal intrinsic motivators: Freedom is by far my no. 1.

All in all, I feel that playing Moving Motivators has helped my team members increase mutual understanding, especially because the top motivations were quite different across the board. It’s clear that different things makes us tick, and I believe it’s quite valuable for us as a team to know and understand those differences. Based on the feedback I got, my team seemed to appreciate the effort, despite some initial apprehension.

Finally, I’d like to share a few observations I made while playing Moving Motivators:

  • Status and Acceptance were deemed very similar. I explained Status is work-related, while Acceptance is more on a personal level. Well, this is my interpretation.
  • Some persons did not want to rate motivations they deemed irrelevant. Freedom and Power are two examples of motivations that were very important to some, but not important at all to others.
  • It is nice to see and recognise similarities and differences between team members.
  • The discussion afterwards was probably the most valuable part, although this discussion only took place because we played Moving Motivators.

The links