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Up to this point we have developed the notion that motivation is best defined as "sustained effort." It's time now for a more complete explanation.

The truth is I can't observe motivation in others di­rectly, I can only observe their behavior, and then infer motivation from what I see them do. I can't see, touch, taste, or feel "motivation" itself, I can only see the con­sequences of motivation. It's invisible! The interesting truth is that motivation is a hypothetical construct, or a convenient label, that we have invented to explain cer­tain patterns of behavior we see in others. And what is the pattern we see in others when we infer that they're motivated? That's easy; we see them exhibiting sus­tained, goal-directed effort.

To summarize: motivation is an internal state of the individual. It is the source of energy within us that pro­vides the fuel to get something done. This energy produces sustained, goal-directed effort, and it is this behavior, not motivation itself, that is observed by others.

Only if we see sustained effort can we assume that someone is, in fact, motivated.


Motivation is an invented concept, a convenient lan­guage, so to speak, in describing how people behave. However, if I want to visualize motivation as though it were real, I often think of a roaring fire or a furnace. And that's the analogy that led to the title of this paper.

I imagine that everyone has a furnace within, and it's this furnace that provides the energy to achieve goals. When the fire is burning brightly, the furnace within puts out a lot of energy and provides warmth and heat. When the fire is not burning brightly, and in fact is a barely flickering flame, there is not much en­ergy available for use, and there is certainly no warmth and heat.


When I am motivated, the flame burns brightly and I am full of energy. When I am not motivated, the flame is barely flickering and I have no energy and thus no desire to put forth effort.

Everyone has a potential furnace. Our challenge is to learn how to "light" this fire within ourselves and others.


We now know what motivation is. It is best defined as sustained, goal-directed effort. But what creates our motivation? How do we become motivated? Or put an­other way, what is the source of our motivation? Both this chapter and the next one will deal with these issues. In this chapter we discuss the spark or kindling needed for lighting the fire within us and within others. In the next chapter we discuss the critical enablers needed for continuing to fuel this fire.

There are two types of motivation or, more precisely, two sources of motivation. One we call "extrinsic" and the other "intrinsic."

Extrinsic Motivation


We say someone is extrinsically motivated if the primary source of the effort is to attain a tangible outcome such as a reward, or to avoid a negative outcome such as a punishment.


In a work setting, we say people are extrinsically mo­tivated if the principal reason for their effort at work is that we pay them, or that we offer positive performance reviews, opportunities for advancement, bonuses, and the like. Similarly we also say people are extrinsically motivated if the principle reason for the effort at work is to avoid reprimands, poor performance reviews, poor assignments, and dismissals.


Notice that with extrinsic motivation, the source of the motivation is external to the task itself, and invari­ably the tangible outcome we seek, such as a pay raise, is administered by someone else.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 14

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