Building on my suggestion of Reversal Theory as an integrative theory for change practitioners, I’ve introduce the central tenets of the theory and will now set out the structure of motivation that influences our experience of the world and, therefore, our response to change.
Our emotional experience and behaviour is influenced by our motivational state and related variables (later). Think of these as lenses by which we see the world.
8 States, 4 Pairs or ‘Domains’
There are eight motivational states (show in the table below), organised into 4 oppositional pairs. One of these, and only one, state in each pair is always active. So we are always in 4 states from the 8, but these combinations are constantly changing. In that sense, our lives are like a dashboard of on/off switches.
Each of the states links to a core value or need, which is our link to culture, and indeed each brings something different in terms of performance or ‘contribution’ to the organisation (Apter International, 2003?) as well as responses to change. Aware that this is one of the things that sets this framework apart from most psychological theories at play in change today, I will follow up with a post specifically on the contributions and responses to change.
Finally, the oppositional pairs link to a common motivational theme or ‘domain’.
So what are these states? They are summarised in the table below (adapted from Apter International, 2007), and I will expand on each in further posts.
|State||Domain||Concerned with (core value/need)||Characteristics|
|Playful||Means & Ends||Enjoyment, fun||Sees actions as valuable for their own sake; In the moment, spontaneous, risk taking, sensation-seeking|
|Serious||Progress, achievement||Actions valuable if leading to a desired goal / outcome; Future focused, sensible, cautious, risk averse|
|Conforming||Rules||Fitting in, belonging||Sees rules as supportive; compliant, conventional, accepting, traditional|
|Rebellious||Freedom, independence||Sees rules as restrictive; challenging, defiant, unconventional, stands out from crowd, mischievous|
|Mastery||Transactions||Power & control||Seeks to gain power or control; Toughness, competitiveness, seeks status, competence|
|Sympathy||Affection, relationships||Seeks to develop personal relationships; Affectionate, friendly, caring or being cared for, senstive|
|Self-Oriented||Relationships||For yourself, individualism||Experience is in terms of impact on self; selfish, takes personal responsibility|
|Other-Oriented||For others, collectivism||Experience is in terms of impact on others; team working, unselfish, giving, modest|
As you might imagine, these states can have significant implications for individual organisational change and performance. All states have their benefits and their potential drawbacks. The challenge for a change manager is to help people to a) match their state to the situation, b) be more ‘skillful’ in their current state (e.g. setting effective goals in the serious state) or c) adapt methods of communication and engagement to peoples’ states (the alternative to this in dealing with large audiences is being able to talk to all eight states – something that I will come back to).
Apter Motivational Style Profile: Consultant Guide, 2007, Apter International