RAMPS

Mastery As Motivator: The M of RAMPS

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series RAMPS

Let’s talk a little about mastery today, in the sense of the RAMPS conversation from yesterday. What is mastery-as-motivator, and what can we do about increasing its motivational force? As I said before, the motivational force called mastery is about how humans value their own growth. All of us carry around an idea, implicit or explicit, of how as individuals we could be "better". Mastery as motivator is the sense we have that we’re stepping towards that "better" as we …

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RAMPS – Autonomy is Freedom to Move

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series RAMPS

Autonomy is a powerful factor in motivation, and the more creative & technical the work, the more likely autonomy is to figure largely in the maker’s motivational spectrum. Here are three different ways I work when I am geeking out. Each of these is about equal in probability to be the one I use for any particular problem. I will write a long essay in slack, driving my colleagues to comical exasperation at times, rubberducking in prose until I get …

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Rhythm as Urgency: The R in RAMPS

This entry is part 3 of 15 in the series RAMPS

Rhythm is the R in RAMPS. Let’s take a look. Rhythm is about tension & release. It is the sense one has of readying, girding, coiling, then taking that stored energy & sending it out. We’ll get to music in a second, tho maybe in a way that will surprise you. But let’s start with some non-musical kinds of tension & release. A spring is stretched, creating tension, then let go of, creating release. Your movement is your muscle cells …

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Safety as Motivator: The S in RAMPS

This entry is part 2 of 15 in the series RAMPS

Let’s do Safety, the S in the recent RAMPS as motivational force series. Safety is hard to get at in one summary sentence, but i’ll try. Safety is the sense we have that we belong: that we’re trusted, valued-in-spite-of, inside a team that welcomes our strange unruly selves. At its simplest, this sense manifests as the belief i’m allowed, even encouraged. Allowed to be different. Allowed to be mistaken. Allowed. You can see how hard that is to summarize! It …

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A Sense Of Urgency: RAMPS As A Motivation Model

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series RAMPS

A very common question: managers turn to me and say, "My team lacks a sense of urgency, how can I give them one?" After I get over the snarky replies — I come from a long line of "the managed" — I do have what I think is an answer: "Study the idea of RAMPS, find the missing or depleted elements, move to restore them. And friend, don’t expect you can do it using words." RAMPS is my acronym for …

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RAMPS – Ways to Affect Autonomy

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

Autonomy is the sense of free motion in a team. I adjust the levels of this by expressing important needs as problems, letting go of unimportant needs, and managing risk by a combination of acceptance, next-stepping, and iteration. The more we need creative technical work, the more we have to concern ourselves with providing the humans who do it the adequate autonomy to do it well. Machines can’t give us what we need, and the extent we build machine-like things …

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RAMPS – Mastery is Opportunity to Grow

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

RAMPS: M is for Mastery, the sense that my work is actively helping me grow, along some dimension I value. When my motivational spectrum calls for a high degree of mastery, I do my best work when it is just a little over my head. People sometimes confuse the drive for mastery with a drive to know everything. But it’s not the knowing, per se. It’s not catching the skill, it’s chasing the skill. My own spectrum rates mastery the …

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Autonomy: How Freedom Correlates To Urgency

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

Let’s talk about the A from RAMPS today: Autonomy. Autonomy is "simple not easy," just like the rest of the motivating forces. Autonomy is the sense of an individual that she is free to work the best way she knows how to achieve the tasks in front of her. We call self-driving cars "autonomous". We do that to contrast them with cars that are controlled by humans: machines. If I say an individual doesn’t feel he has autonomy, I’m saying …

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RAMPS – Ways To Affect Mastery

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

RAMPS: Affecting mastery, the sense an individual has that she is growing in a way she values, means first jiggling our ideas about efficiency & relevance in work, then jumping in to the opportunities that jiggling will reveal. We talked about the widespread pernicious conceptual cluster we call "finish-line efficiency": the idea that software development is basically a race, w/a start, a well-marked track, and a precise finish line some distance away. Overturning this is central to engaging mastery. I’m …

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RAMPS – Purpose is Service to a Greater

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

RAMPS: P is for Purpose, the sense one is serving a valued "greater". Those who rate this band of the motivational spectrum highly can be go-to workhorses, but only if we keep them connected to their valued greater. If rhythm is largely focused on the distribution of "feels good" through one’s working life, purpose works to carry us through the "feels bad" part of it, by transforming the local discomfort into an instrument for the higher goal. Have you ever …

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