Avatar: Motivation 3.0 for an Evolved Community

After a day of food and fun with our granddaughter, the undisputed center of the household at the moment (when she is in town), we settled down to watch Avatar.  (Yes, I had seen it at the theater).

There are a lot of ways to look at this film.  Here is one:  it is the battle between Motivation 2.0 and Motivation 3.0 (Daniel Pink’s terms).  The context:  the corporate profit seekers need the Navi to move away from their beautiful home, in order to turn a greater profit.

Selfridge: "Find me a carrot to get them to move, or it's going to have to be all stick."

Here’s the relevant dialogue (from the script, found here):

JAKE
So — who talks them into moving?

QUARITCH
Guess.

JAKE
What if they won’t go?

QUARITCH
I’m betting they will.

SELFRIDGE
Killing the indigenous looks bad, but there’s one thing shareholders hate more
than bad press — and that’s a bad quarterly statement. Find me a carrot to
get them to move, or it’s going to have to be all stick. (emphasis added).

Jake is shaken by the enormity of this new responsibility.

QUARITCH
You got three months.    That’s when the dozers get there.

JAKE
I’m on it.

Selfridge, the “company man,” is the one who uses the imagery of carrots and sticks.  Here is his character bio from imdb:

Parker Selfridge is the “company man” on Pandora, the Chief Administrator for RDA. He’s in charge of all the mining operations on the planet and determined not the let the ‘natives’ stand in his way. He’d like to use diplomacy- largely because it looks better from a PR standpoint- but is prepared to use force if necessary.

Well, if you have seen Avatar, you know that carrots and sticks did not win the day.  The Navi are fully devoted Motivation 3.0 followers, finding their motivation from within, true intrinsic motivation – motivation that leads them to the greatest of sacrifice.

So, yes, as I watched the movie I thought of the motivation insight from Daniel Pink’s DRiVE:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  Here is his own twitter summary of his book (in Pink’s own words, from the end of the book):

“Carrots & sticks are so last century.  Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”

I think it is interesting that in the midst of the story of Avatar, James Cameron reveals just how outmoded carrots and sticks are in an evolved community.

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