Yeah, I know. It sounds like a spammy Internet come-on – a proposition too good to be true.  But in this month’s Sunday Telegraph column, I look at the work of University of Pennsylvania management scholar Adam Grant – and his research on using purpose and significance as performance-enhancing drugs.

His finding: Reminding people why they’re doing what they’re doing – even in surprisingly modest ways — can have a big impact.

You can read the full column here.

12 Responses to “Can a 5-minute exercise double your productivity?”

  1. Thank you for the link to the article, Dan.

    I think it’s imperative to link a “why” with your activity, especially when leading a team. You need to understand and appreciate each individual’s “why”, and all members involved need to understand the team’s or organization’s collective “why”,in order to drive any real, meaningful action.

  2. Nate says:

    I love this idea. As a music teacher I have a venn diagram above my desk made up of 3 circles within each other that help to illustrate my “why?”.

    The largest circle is education.
    The circle inside that is fine arts & ethics.
    The circle inside that one is creativity.

    This visual reference keeps me grounded, gives me purpose, and helps me to see the bigger picture.

    What’s your “why”?

  3. Interesting, Dan. How do you stay as productive as you want to be? Any special science you use?

  4. Ana says:

    Another great article. Would be interesting to see if there is a relation between having a ‘why’ and intrapreneurship.

  5. Love this article Dan! Thanks so much. As well as useful in management – I find asking ‘why’ very useful in strategy review. Taking the time to question the rationale behind activities is so valuable. Hope your 2011 has started well! Best wishes from Downunder! 🙂

  6. Troy says:

    Thanks Dan.

    All too often today within organisations there are misguided and overly complex ideas about getting the most out of people.

    Here is an easy, zero cost, highly motivating concept that brings people back to their sense of Purpose. I’ve been contemplating using video and multimedia to deliver a similar snapshot of the organisation as you’ve described in getting people to write n blank index cards. You’ve helped refine that idea further for me so I appreciate that.

    Kind Regards
    Troy

  7. RG says:

    I find the Gen Y/Z+ demanding to be convinced before agreeing to do something, much more than previous generations ever did. I was amused recently when my 5-year-old nephew, who, on hearing his Mom shout from another room, “Go for your bath!” shouted back, “Why?!”

    One compelling reason why managers must explain the purpose behind an instruction is that the other person might do one or more of the following:
    a. Suggest a more efficient method to achieve the same objective
    b. Ask a question that might enlarge/clarify/redefine the scope
    c. Supply information that could make the task redundant or irrelevant
    d. Voice concerns on potential problems and overlooked risks that may help beef up the overall plan.

    All these are in addition to the fact that there would be better buy-in and motivation.

  8. Constantin says:

    Yes, yes yes! Thanks for this post, Daniel! When I work on goals in coaching with my clients, “why” ist one of the most importatnt questions. Passion drives people forward. Why ist that so? Becuase “why” is a question close to peoples inner drives.

  9. The uniqueness of your article is indeed something that is influential in nature if probed deeply , great work.

  10. Tim Gasper says:

    From the article: “the people in the second group – who took a moment to consider the significance of their work and its effect on others’ lives – raised more than twice as much money, in twice as many pledges, as they had in previous weeks and significantly more than their counterparts in the other two groups.”

    That is so amazing! This really changes the way I think about motivating my team and myself. I having a company mission statement and all those sorts of things aren’t crap as long as you really take those exercises seriously and embed that worthwhile cause into your routines. Autonomy, mastery, … and __purpose__.

  11. Brien says:

    Great article, Dan. About a dozen years ago, I worked with an internet service provider. It was a time of crazy growth, insane work hours and scrambling to make up the rules as we went along.

    We had an old newspaper journalist on contract who surveyed our subscribers – asking them, in exchange for some goofy prize, to submit their stories of how their (then new) internet service had affected their lives.

    The stories made for a good read for our weekly subscriber ezine – one for example, from a woman who found the love of her life online, from another who after getting the run-around for years from an overburdened, uninformed small town doctor, found relief and a support group for her rare medical condition via the web and another, who upgraded his education and got a better job through net-based distance learning.

    But the real impact came when the stories were shared with the techies and the call center people who had been grinding out those long hours to keep things running. Thanks for your reminder of the power of purpose.

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