Moving Motivators (Free Exercise)

I invented a new exercise which allows people to reflect on their motivation, and how this is being affected by organizational change. Check out the following description, and see if you like it…

Ten Intrinsic Desires

The Moving Motivators exercise is based on the 10 intrinsic desires which I derived from the works of Daniel Pink, Steven Reiss, and Deci/Ryan. In order to play the Moving Motivators exercise you need to download this PDF, print the results on sturdy paper, and cut out the cards.

1st Step: Important to You

In the first part of the exercise you determine which motivators are most important to you. You do this by ordering the cards from the left (least important) to the right (most important).

It appears that the results vary strongly among players. For example, Freedom turns out to be the most important motivator for me, and Order is the least important. But for my friends the results turned out to be quite different.

2nd Step: Effects of Change

In the second part of the exercise you consider a change in your work life, such as an Agile transformation, a relocation, a new project, or a new job. You then determine how that change affects your motivators. If the change is positive, you move the card up. If the change is negative, you move the card down.

You will probably see that organizational changes have a different impact on different motivators. Perhaps the Agile transformation of your team makes your Curiosity card go up, but your Competence card may (temporarily) go down. Or the new job you applied for will increase your Status while at the same time it may decrease your Relatedness.

3rd Step: Reflection on Motivation

The Moving Motivators exercise reveals the effect of an organizational change on your motivators. When most of the important motivators go down, or when only the least important ones go up, you may realize that you have some work to do on your own motivation.

The exercise is particularly interesting for team managers (possibly to be performed with people in private one-on-one situations). It allows managers to find out what motivates their team members, and how an organizational change is affecting them. The exercise may give better insights than a regular conversation.

And it’s more fun too!

p.s. The Moving Motivators exercise is new. Please report your findings and possible improvements!

Related Posts
free book
“How to Change the World”
  • Olaf Lewitz

    Thank you!
    That sounds like an important tool to have in my toolbox:-)
    Keep this up, please!
    And thanks for sharing with the community.
    Take care

  • Paul Boos

    Another exercise I can immediately see out of this is sharing the results to see where team incompatibilities are… Where people are mismatched, they will need to work harder to fulfill each other’s needs.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  • André Heijstek

    Wow Jurgen,
    This looks great. I will definitely try this out soon, and let you know how it worked.

  • Robvanlanen

    Hi Jurgen,
    I will definitely use this in our team / 1:1.
    Thanks for sharing,

  • ReneMT

    Great input!
    I will also test in in the field in the next weeks.

  • Plamen Balkanski

    Hi Jurgen, this sounds interesting and could be a good exercise if those we use it with are in a position to reveal their actual motivators as opposed to their espoused ones. I can see why you recommend doing it in 1-2-1 sessions and it might help but for some it is difficult to pick actuals even when they are alone in the room sometimes simply because they may not be aware that what they espouse to does not match with how they behave or what in fact motivates them.

  • Vasuda

    Hi Jurgen,
    Thats a very interesting exercise…
    In one of the videos that i have seen on motivation the following factors were used.
    learning new things
    obtaining money or results
    steering your own ship
    helping others
    experiencing harmony
    being consistent

  • nikos

    thnx for sharing!
    already have the test for my self and with a few colleagues!….
    …it is funny…BUT there is a lot of value behind!!!!

    people can easy in an informal way, visualize the status of their motivators…and with a little coaching they will find their own actions/plan to try change Lows to Highs!…see benefit of a change even if seems that demotivates them!

    highly recommended!…

  • Alexander Lisogurskiy

    Hi Jurgen,
    Thanks for sharing, will definitely try it in our team and share our feelings I suppose.

  • Melissa P

    Thanks for sharing. I always rally behind intrinsic motivation and trying to find ways to bring it out in people. This exercise is very helpful!

  • Vincent Driscoll

    Thanks for sharing Jurgen
    Perhaps a variation in step 1 would be to elicit ten motivators from a group, rather than giving them the 10 mentioned here. This might reveal some interesting truths about shared motivations.

  • Shining

    I use this game to do a motivation reflection of my startup partner. Both of us explore and define in detail the real motivation for us to start the business. While before that, it is unclear, although both of us are willing to start the business and making funs from that.
    This is a very useful exercise.

  • Sebastian Radics

    Amazing how you create new innovations. Again a really cool idea that will extend my toolset. Thanks a lot for sharing it. As soon as I tried it, I’ll give you feedback on it.

  • Chontelle

    Hi Jurgen
    Can we purchase the packaged sets of Moving Motivators? I’ve used mine (from the course) with my team and others and found it a very good exercise. I’ve printed off copies, but would ideally like the packaged sets to pass to other Managers across the company to use within their teams. Is this possible?

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Hello Chontelle,
    The cards will be available for order from Amazon in 1 or 2 weeks, in a slightly updated design.
    Just follow my blog or Twitter stream, and you will know. 🙂

  • Anders

    Hi and thanks for sharing.
    Inspired by this and A3 I changed the describing texts on the cards so they all get the prefix “I want to…” (I want to have people around me…, I want to have good social contact, etc). I let everyone in our team lay out whats important to them in one row.
    I then gave them the original set of cards and had them place them in order of their situation today – in our team.
    The differences led to discussions on a team level on changes that could improve the team situation as well as changes that the team could make to improve for individuals.
    We’ll see how it turns out… 😉

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Thanks for your input!

  • Richard Hechenbichler

    Today I used the cards in a collective meeting, which was really good and positive for everyone. To add a bit more to this exercise, we found out that working on the motivators carefully, individuals will uncover hidden motivators that actually drive superficial ones, or initially positioned to the right ends of the row, as there are intrinsic relationships of the motivators with others. As an example, someone noticed that his power card on the rightest end of the row was not supposed to be there, because he figured he’s deepest motivator was goal and honor. Means he shouldn’t try to reach power to get motivated in order to change things around him.

  • Richard Hechenbichler

    Hi Jurgen, even though I have wife and 3 kids, doing MBA and having a miserable job, I found some spare time to build a simple app with the cards to play with it a little, as cutting paper for multiple directs or dealing with it is not much fun.
    Want to have a track of folks progression with the cards, and found it easier to get results and hopefully get some sort of dashboard across different 121s.
    If you are not ok with it let me know. Tried to get a direct contact with you but couldn’t find it.
    Thanks and Cheers.

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Hi Richard,
    Thanks, it looks great. If you put it up somewhere online, I will be happy to link to it.

  • Marinus Geuze

    Hi Jurgen,
    Good blog. I will give it a try. However the link to the PDF is not working anymore. Can you provide a new link.

  • Jurgen Appelo

    Fixed the link. Thanks for reporting it!

  • How to Watch The Simpsons Online Free

    How to Watch The Simpsons Online Free

    Moving Motivators (Free Exercise) – Agile Management | NOOP.NL

  • Matthias Orgler

    Thanks! We did this game with the whole team (NOT 1:1), which is very useful to create a mutual understanding of what motivates my teammates! However, as already mentioned this might only work in teams already living agile values like openness and courage.

  • Michael Tarnowski

    Jurgen, currently the MM card deck is charged for $100.- at

    • jurgenappelo

      Actually, it’s a box of 32 decks, which is charged at that price.

  • Pingback: Agile Games France 2015 | julieboiveau

  • Alexander Schaaf

    Thanks for sharing. Just one short question – is it free to use the Game in a commercial context? I am certified as a Management 3.0 Trainer and i wanted to give this Game to a Colleague who wants to use the Game in a Training? I feel the Licence Agreement is not clear…??

    • jurgenappelo

      Sorry, I am not handling Management 3.0 customer questions on my private blog. Please reach out to our team at: Thanks.

    • jurgenappelo

      Sorry, I am not handling Management 3.0 customer questions on my private blog. Please reach out to our team at: Thanks.

How to Change the World - free Workout - free