How to Motivate People — Help

How can I get people to enter their golf scores into the handicap system?  I just read Drive by Dan Pink and would like to apply the ideas of Motivation 3.0 to my problem.  I would like this to be the beginning of a discussion about motivation.  Please comment.

Pink says only intrinsic motivation works for complex tasks and I guess entering golf scores must fall into that category.  The key to intrinsic motivation according to Pink are autonomy, mastery and purpose.  So let's see how I can apply the principle to entering golf scores.

Let me give a little background for non-golfers.  In order for people of different abilities to compete against other, golf has a system that takes your scores and creates a number that you subtract from your score so that on average you all will shot the same score.  So a poorer golfer having a good day will beat a god golfer having a bad day.  The system works if everybody enters their scores into the handicap computer.

There seems to tow kinds of people who do not put their scores in the computer.  People who want to have a low handicap and do not put in bad scores and people who want to have a high handicap so do not put in low scores.  The other group may be just lazy and "forget" to put in scores.  External penalties do not work for any length of time and require a lot of work so I want to find another way.

I think I will give them autonomy by telling them it is their choice to enter scores and they can decide if the want to play by the rules in this game that depends on peoples honor.  I will explain the purpose of the handicap system and the concept of making competition between players of unequal ability fair.  Then explain that a measure of their mastery of the game is their handicap, not individual scores.  If they are not putting in all their scores they are not honestly measuring their level of mastery. 

The other purpose that I can present is being fair to their team mates and competitors.

I think that covers the principles that Pink present.  If you want to read more about Drive and Motivation 3.0, see

I would like some reaction to my dilemma and thoughts.

  1. Jim Reply

    I have not heard from Dan Pink but I have some new insights about people entering scores. People treat the whole thing very casually and there is a culture at this club of entering scores every so often.
    I gave a talk to the group this week and explained to them the complexity of the issue. Told them they can decide when they enter scores but th erules say they should enter every score. The handicap system will reflect their mastery of the game if they enter all their scores. The purpose is to play fair and feel good when you win because you have been fair.
    I wonder if I will have any effect. People are at least annoyed because I bugging them. At least I have their attention.
    I wonder if Dan Pink will respond.
    I will report on results later.

  2. Jim Reply

    I decided to send the author of Drive this email:
    I have an interesting motivational problem that I would like some help on. If you are a golfer, you might understand my problem. However in case you are not here is the issue. In order for people of different handicaps to compete against each other, golf has a system of handicapping which takes the best ten of your last twenty scores and takes an average and compares it with the par for the course. The difference is your handicap and if you pay to your handicap you will have a score that when your handicap is subtracted, you will have a score of par.
    It works well if everybody puts all their scores in the computer and even then it is imperfect. However many people do not put all their scores into the computer. The rules of golf are very clear on this point.
    I am on the Handicap Committee and I would like to find a way of motivating people to put their scores in the computer.
    It has been suggested that I monitor if people do not put their scores in and enter a low score if they do not put their scores in. Also their are all kinds of punishments that people have proposed like banishing them from competition.
    None of those use the Motivation 3.0 operating system. I would like to use the new operating system and have been racking my brain to think of a way.
    Here is a little background. Golf is a game of honour and people can break the rules in many ways. There is no way except motivation 3.0 to deal with these issues and it has worked well throughout the years.
    Generally there are fours kinds of people in golf. The first group wants to have a low handicap and so do not enter bad rounds (“Cause the would not count anyway”) The second group wants to have a high handicap and does not enter good scores (I think a minority but they get the bad reputation) the third group are the people who simply forget to put their score in because it is not a habit. The fourth group are people who habitually put scores in and let their handicap fall where it may.
    I have thought of two ways of talking about this.
    The first is to talk about how complex handicapping is, that it is imperfect and the only way it works fairly is that every body puts their scores in every time. Encourage people to make a habit of putting every score in the computer. I will tell them it is their decision but if they want to play by the rules and to adhere to the spirit of golf they will enter all their scores. There will be no penalty and they must make their own decision. The handicap is a personal measure of your mastery of the game and the purpose is to make things fair to yourself, your team, and your competitors.
    The second approach is come on a little stronger about abiding by the rules of golf. The idea is if your break the rules of golf you are cheating yourself, your team mates and competitors. The rules of golf state you must enter a score for every 18 holes you play. If you do not enter your score, you are breaking the rules of golf. The trouble is you are very liberal about your interpretation of the rules. I appeal to your sense of fair play and honour to enter every score. If you do not complete a hole estimate your score or take your maximum score which ever is lower. Please do not cheat your fellow golfers.
    I would love to get your thoughts on this issue. I found your book totally fascinating and would like your opinion on my dilemma.

  3. Jim Reply

    The question is do people who do not put in their scores realize they are cheating. Golf is based on people being honorable. Even people who break the rules would somehow reconcile in their minds that they are justified somehow for what they do.
    I need to appeal to people sense for fair play and help them understand if they do not put in their scores they are breaking the rules.
    However based on the book, Drive, I need to make sure that people know they make their own decision on what they do.
    Another thing I need to figure how is how to make it a habit that they put in their score as opposed to making a decision as to whether put in a score.
    I will keep adding to this blog as I try different strategies.
    I think this concept is very applicable to many business issue that require motivation to complete complex tasks.

  4. Jim Reply

    From a woman golfer friend, Lynn
    I think you’re absolutely right about this Jim. When you asked me how we got the women to enter their scores, I told you then that men and women were different. My approach with the ladies league was basically to order them to put their scores in. Many men would react adversely to being ordered to do something. In mulling things over I was going to say to you that I thought the way to influence men was to appeal to their sense of honesty and fairness. There will be some for whom this approach is ineffective (because either their vanity or their lack of honesty trumps it) but I think the vast majority of men will, eventually, get on board with this approach.

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