Daniel Pink writes in his book “Drive: The surprising truth about what really motivates us” that employees are motivated by three factors; Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. When you read his book it really make sense that these factors are important to achieve a happy work-life, but as with many books, he does not really dive into how employees get to a point where they get to experience them.


Purpose originates from two different places, internal purpose and external purpose.Internal purpose is your own reason or “why” as Simon Sinek writes about in his book “Start with Why”. Your internal purpose, or “why”, is the innermost reason for all your behaviors and it is expressed through all your layers of personality.If you do not know your own purpose it is time well spent to search for it through reading, talking, and self-development.

External purpose is the purpose of the working environment as set forth by your leaders. This purpose can be defined at many levels, but should always be tightly tied into the main purpose of the business. For example, Zappo has ten core values, the first is “deliver WOW through service” [1]. If this high-level purpose was destroyed by a timer on each call in the support division, they would never have gone viral when they helped this guy get a pizza.     [2]

So in the end, purpose is the core of the business “why”, the foundation on which the entire business is built, and if your foundation is unbalanced or too thin, everything built upon it will be thin and prone to collapsing.


Autonomy is defined as “independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions:the autonomy of the individual.” [3]. The reason autonomy is hard to achieve in business, and why it historically has been sought to be avoided, is that most people will start aligning what they do with their own purpose if the company purpose is not strong enough.

That is why we see these really well communicated purposes in new startups; because they need the best employees that they can get, and to attract and maintain these employees you need to be able to build an autonomous working environment.

Autonomy does not imply that employees should be left to their own accord. On the contrary, they have to continually get feedback about what they have done and where they are going. This is important because it will keep them aligned with the company purpose.Autonomy does mean that there should be no micromanaging and no daily control of progress from the leaders.

If you are a leader who wants to attract and keep autonomous makers, you have to set goals and follow up on these every week. For example, you hold a weekly Monday meeting where you talk about last week’s goal, what was done and what was not, and then you talk about this week’s goals, what the makers are planning to get done and whether this is aligned with the purpose of the department/company.

When you hold a Monday meeting with your entire team you will be able to uphold the course of your team while letting go of the reigns throughout the week and thereby boosting the feeling of autonomy that your makers will feel.


All really good makers want to master the art they are performing because the art they create is aligned with their purpose and “why”.

In many companies, when really good makers are hired they are not allowed to work on mastering their art. This will eventually lead to either depressed makers who perform badly, or makers who will leave the working environment to find greener pastures.

Google’s famous “20% time” is a prime example of how to allow your makers to train their mastery, because becoming a master at something means you will have to fail a lot while honing your skills.

Another way you can let your makers practice mastery is to let them decide how much they will get done every day. At the weekly Monday meeting you have to let the makers decide on 1 or 2 tasks (defined by themselves) they will get done every day without your objections (unless they get nothing done of course). When makers get to set their own pace they will not over-plan, and this more balanced planning will eventually lead to them completing a task before the deadline.

When makers reach a deadline early they usually throw themselves at the next task, but by agreeing on exactly how much they need to get done during the week, they will be confident that they are ahead and they will automatically start using the spare time on becoming better at their art.

This simple way of clearly and constantly communicating the purpose of the maker, team and company while leaving the makers alone during the week will eventually lead to the makers having a strong sense of purpose and enough autonomy to feel free. Even more, if you let them use their spare time to master their art instead of doing more work, you will be able to create a working environment where true masters will excel and build amazing stuff.