The attached video (starting at 5:06) perfectly summarises the three building blocks of intrinsic motivation: Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose.

Dan Pink mentions Wikipedia in this video – in fact, Wikipedia is a fantastic illustration of how fostering a culture of Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose can create hugely successful results.

In the mid-90s, Microsoft recruited thousands of experts to write Encarta, an online encyclopedia. The whole operation was very ‘by the book’ with respect to project management – the senior leaders set the specifications and the authors were rewarded financially (with bonuses schemes in place for their output velocity/quantity).

Several years later, enter Wikipedia: the free-access, free-content encyclopedia that uses millions of predominantly anonymous authors. In contrast to Encarta, these authors were not rewarded with money, but instead a sense of community and recognition as experts that go the extra mile.

Mastery: WikiAuthors showcase their thought leadership and garner respect in a community of relevant others.

Autonomy: WikiAuthors have the sense of self-direction; contributing freely without requests from authoritative others.

Purpose: By contributing content, WikiAuthors are part of a laudable movement that provides free education to the masses.

Fast forward to today. Wikipedia has 38 million pages in 270 languages. At its peak, Encarta had 62,000 pages in 6 languages. Wikipedia continues to grow, and its contributors maintain this winning formula of Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose.