Improv as motivator


I am Fin Kingma and I am worried. Worried about all the people working agile and still focusing on methods, techniques and tools.
I myself am an Agile Tester. And over the years I have come across a lot of trainings and workshops about Exploratory Testing, Test Automation, and other techniques / tools you can use to add more value in your team as a tester.

I notice a huge gap in soft skills trainings and workshops for testers, but also for other IT professionals. How can that be? If the first Agile Value is named “People and Interactions over Processes and Tools”, why do we spend so much time on learning new processes and tools, and so little time on ourselves and our interactions? It’s not like working in IT will improve our soft skills automatically. Or is everyone just skipping the first value…

Several years ago I discovered why. Why there are so few trainings and workshops to train our testing soft skills. It is because it is ‘intangible’, which is a fancy word for ‘I have no idea how to train that’.

The challenge
Being quite competitive myself, I had this little barney in the back of my head saying ‘challenge accepted!’ and so I started my quest to come up with ways to train these intangible soft skills.
I started digging into Intrinsic Motivation, which gave me a solid understanding of how our motivation and behavior works. Even stuff like manipulation. I just wanted to understand everything that could help me develop trainings and workshops to train soft skills for the IT professional. Mainly focusing on testers, because I believe testers should be the evangelists in helping a team improve (not only testing the product, but also testing the process and the team).
Using my newly gained knowledge of Intrinsic Motivation I gave several presentations and workshops, where I managed to help people understand their own motivations and behavior. I helped people understand the difference between self determined / proactive individuals (what every organization is looking for nowadays) versus reactive individuals, which was the result of bad management for several decades. Everyone saw the value of becoming proactive / self determined individuals, but unfortunately most people were still stuck in the reactive part and I could not help them to become proactive. The advise I gave, which I learned from Intrinsic Motivation and from the many horrible manipulation stories, was: ‘you need to discover who you are, for yourself’.

But to be completely honest… it was still something intangible for me as well.

But it seems that I now have come up with a possible way to ‘tangilize’ the intangible.

As a kid I spend some years on the stage, practising theatre. It was a lot of fun, but I always got bored when we had to follow the script. Those days I never even heard of Improvisation Theatre.

Six months ago I started practising Improvisation Theatre, to find out if it could help with my quest to train soft skills for IT professionals. To turn reactive individuals into proactive self-determined individuals.
While practising Improvisation Theatre I discovered that the art of Improv (short for Improvisation Theatre) makes use of exactly those soft skills that spark our creativity and come up with new brilliant ways to improve ourselves and our communication (listening and talking effectively). Basically it focuses on almost everything you need to become self-determined. Dan O’Conner gives an amazing speech of how improvisation could be used:

There’s also a nice blogpost from Robert Strauch who also made the link between Improv and Testing, and a few talks are given about using improv skills to improve the way we test. So this idea of using Improv is not completely new. But I am curious how improv can be used to transform people from reactive into proactive beings.

Amongst others, the following soft skills are trained using Improv:

  • Be bold, dare to stand up in front of an audience
  • Listening well to your partners and your audience
  • Bringing your message across as effectively as possible
  • Accept and embrace any situation
  • Having fun

Testing it’s practical use
I already organized a simple workshop and discovered that it was possible to have an entire group of people who are new to improv, stand and perform on stage within the hour. Several build up exercises are required to get there though. Now as a next step I want to go further. I want to discover if I can spark proactive behaviour using Improv workshops at clients, to help teams reach a stage of continuous improvement. Off course I will do this the testers-way! I will create a hypothesis and act (organize workshops at a client in this case) to prove or disprove my hypothesis. Because that is what makes testing fun.

My hypothesis is as follows:

“People who voluntarily join improvisation theatre workshops at a regularly base will show increased proactive behaviour over time.”

I will measure this using the following metrics:
- the amount of improvements done during a sprint within a team (should go up),
- the amount of complaining without action done during a sprint (should go down).

I will measure these by observing teams before and after each workshop, focusing on the attendees of the workshops.

For the coming months I will update this blog more actively to share any interesting updates.

Agile Testing Days 2015 | feeling at home

So I just got back from the Agile Testing Days 2015 in Potsdam. It was my first time attending this conference and I had no idea of what to expect.

During the first night I met some great people at the bar. Because it was my first time here, I still had a lot of networking to do. Still I’m a big fan of networking and even when I see a familiar face, I only approach them if I have something I want to discuss with that person. It’s an attitude that helped me meet a lot of amazing people and make new friends.

The plan
My first plan was to meet as many people and absorbing as much information as possible. I thought that would help me get the most out of the conference. During the first day – tutorial day – that strategy worked fine. It all changed after my own presentation.


Speaking for such an audience was an amazing experience. It gave me a lot of energy. It actually gave me too much energy…

After my talk was over I was so energized I could not just sit in with any next talk, I was way too psyched to sit around. so I decided to change my strategy. After all that was the agile way to do. I went out to jog to decide a new strategy for the rest of the conference.

Many strange thoughts popped my mind, as always. Most I will not share here on my blog, but one of them sticked. The week before the conference I also spend 4 days in Berlin. The first two days I just went out jogging or by bike and go sightseeing. On the third day I made a list of the things I still wanted to see (a friend from Berlin helped me with the list), a tosee-list.

I went out by bike. Parked my bike in the center and went with a tour-bus. I saw some amazing locations, but decided to stick to my plan. Once the tour-bus returned to my original location… No wait, it never did. Apparently there was a ongoing demonstration and I could not reach my bike. I also could not reach any of the stuff I written on my tosee-list. Apparently I was not meant to see anything on my tosee-list. So I improvised once more and actually had another great day in Berlin.

So what did I learn here? Perhaps there was something wrong on my tosee-list. Perhaps something I was never allowed to see. There are so many different explanations. I took the least probable one: It was a coincidence and plans are written down only to be screwed up.

So I applied this experience to my conference. I know I wanted to go to this conference, but I never really thought about what I wanted to do here. I just went here to do my talk and have an amazing experience. But what does an amazing experience mean? When will I have an amazing experience?

I have asked myself this question a few times before and I always come up with the same answer: when I collect inspiring unexpected stories. Things I can’t wait to tell others about. But I also learned how these stories always occur. By not following plans, but by following my heart. When I was young I got into some really weird situations, but it was awesome! And I survived all of it!

Change of plans
So the new plan was just to walk around and follow my heart. Let me give you a little example of how that worked:

Coffee break -> new talks start -> meet someone cool -> skip talk -> going for a walk -> smoking -> meet many more people -> find recognizable faces -> flirt a bit -> start a rumor -> etc.

In the end I missed a lot of great talks, but instead I did meet a lot of great people, learned many interesting things and more importantly, I actually felt at home at the conference!

Simply by always following your heart and keep asking yourself: Do I still want to be here? Where do I want to go? I had the most amazing experience at this conference: I felt at home!

Experimenting with Intrinsic Motivation

hey there!

For years I had this notion that it must be much more complex to Intrinsically motivate people than to motivate them externally. That it should be easier to decrease the internalization of their motivation, than to increase it. I could not have been more wrong…

Mostly because there have been many experiments like the candle problem. Problems that required creative heuristic thinking to be solved and where participants become driven by external motivation (simply by adding a monetary reward).

For those that are unfamiliar with the candle problem:


The challenge is: how to fix and light a candle on a wall (a cork board) in a way so the candle wax won’t drip onto the table below.

These experiments show how easily participants can be manipulated by lowering their internalization, making them less effective in solving complex puzzles.

Several months ago I conducted experiments with the same idea using a dutch game called ‘black stories’, where participants have to think creatively to find the solution. In this case, to solve a murder. I came to the same conclusions as most of the candle problem experiments, but at least I discovered them myself. I learned for myself instead of from a book.

A few weeks ago I conducted a new experiment (still using black stories). But instead of playing with a focus group and a control group, I decided to go for one group and play with the rules to see what happens within the group.

Basically I started out playing the game the way it is meant to be played. But as players made too much progress – I changed the rules.

Individual game chips
My main addition were game chips (= external stimuli). Players could win chips by asking the right questions or lose chips by asking stupid questions. The game master could decide which questions were right and which were stupid (I picked someone random as game master).

An important insight was not only the speed in which questions were asked, but also the type of questions. The game started active, with questions being asked every second. After the introduction of game chips, the players started asking ‘safe’ questions. Questions that would rarely be considered stupid, but uncovered almost no clues at all. It could take 30 seconds between the questions that were asked. You can imagine that it took very long for the game to be completed this way (and the plan was to timebox these sessions for 10 minutes :D).

Group game chips
Another fun alteration was having game chips for the ‘group’. Game chips were now shared. All of a sudden, the players started thinking more collaboratively. Listening to each other, but still asking ‘safe’ questions. Discussions were born.

It was incredibly fun to see what these changes did to the group behavior. Everyone was affected by these game changers and it had enormous impact on the speed in which the game was played – and completed. As I put more focus on the game chips, less relevant questions were asked and it took longer to complete the game.

After evaluating one of the sessions I got feedback that it was normal for the game to start active and slowly lose speed, because the first relevant questions are the easiest to think of.

The challenge
So I felt an upcoming challenge that I had to take. I decided to spice things up for the last group. Before the game started I gave every player a few game chips and explained the ‘rules’, or actually ‘my screwed up rules’.

After 5 minutes, not a single relevant question was asked.

Then I intervened. I took away all the game chips and explained it was free for all once again.

Now every player was firing away relevant questions. Not a second was wasted. It took them only a few minutes to finish the game this time.

When playing a game that requires creative thinking, triggering Intrinsic Motivation is JUST AS EASY as triggering External Motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation

As an Intrinsic Motivation enthusiast I have had several discussions with people about the subject. I have learned over the years that many people do not understand what Intrinsic Motivation is about. For that reason I decided to make a new blog post to explain the idea behind Intrinsic Motivation.

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan explain “To be motivated means to be moved to do something”. I always explain it as having  the energy to do something. Without energy, all of our brilliant ideas will never come to fruition. Energy or motivation is not enough to make us move. We also need direction. Motivation in itself does not say anything about direction, that is why we talk about Extrinsic Motivation or Intrinsic Motivation.

Extrinsic Motivation vs Intrinsic Motivation
We can be Extrinsically motivated: directed by external factors, like money or trying to avoid pain.

Intrinsic Motivation means that we get the direction from ourselves. We decide for ourselves what we want to do.

Polarized Internalization
However, Intrinsic Motivation states that we are solely directed by intrinsic factors. But even our hobbies are affected by our own environment: being short on cash, not having enough time. Many other external factors can be named. The point is, is that we are always partially influenced by external factors.

In truth, the amount of which we are directed by intrinsic factors versus external factors is a matter of polarization. The degree to which we are Intrinsically motivated is called our Internalization.

5 levels of internalization
Self Determination Theory developed a subtheory called Organismic Integration Theory. This subtheory divides our degrees of internalization into five different groups. These five groups helped me understand the internalization of my own actions, while I was still an… lets call it Intrinsic Motivation Apprentice.

Starting at the bottom of internalization:

1) External motivation
Being directed by external factors. The carrot and stick principles is a well known example of this level of internalization: do this and then you will get X, or if you don’t you will get punished by Y. You are being forced by an external source.

2) Introjected motivation
Being pressured. Someone that is pressuring you to sign a contract is a great example of this level of motivation, but also peer pressure is a common example. The external factors that pressure you are not easily perceived and it often feels like you are forcing yourself to do something.

3) Identified motivation
Willing to do something for another. You are not directed by your own self, but you choose voluntarily to help someone else. For myself, doing the dishes in a guests apartment is a good example. But also when you are part of a Scrum team it is important to set your own idealogy aside and let yourself be directed by what the team needs.

4) Integrated motivation
Wanting something. This level of motivation is directed by your own idealogy. Whenever you are focused on a goal that is important to you (but you have not yet achieved) you are directed by Integrated motivation. You are directed by your own self, but you focus on something external.

5) Intrinsic motivation
Purely Intrinsic Motivation is doing something for the experience itself. You are not focused on any external goal. To be directed by this level of motivation you need to study yourself, discover who you are. In My identity I explain who I am and what I want. Who I am is linked to this level of internalization and what I want is linked to level 4, Integrated motivation.

Benefits of Intrinsic Motivation

Proactive / self managed
The higher your internalization, the more proactive you become. After all, the higher levels of internalization make you less dependant on external factors. If you act based on level 1 internalization (external motivation) you will only act when a carrot or stick is presented at you. If you act based on level 5 internalization (Intrinsic motivation) you have no dependency towards any external factors, thus you act based on your own self. This is what we call proactive behavior. The only risk is that what you think is right, might bring down new problems. The key here is communication. If you talk with your colleagues about your ideas, they can warn you or help you out.

Several studies have shown that we become more skilled at performing heuristic skills (thinking creatively) when being intrinsically motivated. This RSI Animate film explains this concept.

Once you discover who you are (again, read My identity), you will discover you are much more then what your job description tells you. I am a Test Consultant. However, because I act based on my own self, I am now also a capable programmer, a Scrum Master and I have learned a lot about (automatic) deployments.

Control over your energy
Being less dependant from external factors also makes us less vulnerable. We cannot control external factors. As we are directed by lower levels of internalization, our energy is influenced by these external factors. If we are directed by our own self we can also choose for ourselves when to act on something that is important. I’ll give a real-life example.

At work I often start new initiatives that improve the quality of our work. A few weeks ago I had taken up too much extra work. I noticed the effect it had on my own energy levels. I informed my colleagues and for a short periode I focused myself only on my testing and developing activities (which I like to do) and let the other initiatieves rest until I felt better. The other initiatives are based on level 4 internalization, while most of my standard activities (testing and developing) are based on level 5 internalization.

Summing up. Intrinsic Motivation is the most internalized direction you can be motivated for. It means you know exactly who you are and you let your actions be directed based on who you are. This way you become more proactive, more creative and more flexible as a team member, but also as a person. It also helps you take control over your own energy.

Teaser Agile Testing Days 2015

I have been invited to talk about Intrinsic Motivation on the first day of the Agile Testing Days in Potsdam. There was doubt in my mind, off course I wanted this!

This was the reason I started working as a Consultant, so I could extend my network to reach more people with my message about Intrinsic Motivation. This will be my first big conference where I can deliver my talk.

My talk will be held on November the 10th (the day before my birthday). With the video in this post I hope to reach more people to come see my presentation on the day before my birthday. So if you know anyone that will be attending the Agile Testing Days, please help me spread the word!

My identity

I, Fin Kingma, am:

  • Goal-oriented in everything I do.
  • Curios to all I do not (yet) understand.
  • Competitive when being challenged.
  • Creative in finding solutions.
  • Helpful to people that I trust

I want to find the limits of every product I use, person I meet and push my own limits. I want to intrinsically motivate people so they start making their own choices and become less dependent of external factors, or people that decide for them.


This is my drive, my mission statement, or whatever name you want to give it. Simply put, it states who I am and what I want.

Getting here was quite a struggle though. At the end I almost added a third part, a ‘what I am good at’. Specifically skills like technical skills, analytical skills. You might call them talents. But I believe that these ‘talents’ are not a part of my identity, but a part of how I grew up in my environment.

The combination of my identity and the environment I grew up in (Working in ICT, many nerd friends (as am I), studied Interaction Design), it makes sense that I developed talents within this area.


What is an identity?

To me, your identity is something static. It is the center of you as a person. It is very difficult to witness for others, and even more difficult for yourself. It is what’s beyond the surface. To further explain my idea of an identity, I’m adding an illustration.


Our identity is the smallest circle and is in my opinion the most important piece of who we are, but also the most difficult to analyze for yourself. The three circles can be compared to the why, how and what circles of Simon Sinek.


Our actions are easy to rationalize. We know what we do (most of the time at least) and it is easy to reflect on these actions. We can analyze these actions to discover what we like to do, what gives us energy, but also what gives us meaning. Certain tasks might not give us energy directly, but might help us achieve something greater, something that means a lot to us. If you never analyzed your actions I would definitely recommend it. I learned a lot from taking notes to discover which actions I like doing, and which require too much energy. Nowadays I even keep a chart on my wall where I keep my most important tasks up to date on whether they require energy or add energy. It is a good way to visualize the healthiness of my life.


Our behavior gets us a step deeper. Our behavior is how we perform these actions. Our behavior can be analyzed, or a method that I prefer, asked. I have asked dozens of people in my neighborhood to  fill in some feedback for me, so that I could learn how they perceive me. Another method is to fill in psychological tests (you will need more than 1 though) and compare the results. A method that helped me personally was based on my actions. An example can be found in my previous post. The idea is to keep notes during 1 day of everything you do. Then filter the list on the actions that you liked to do and would like to do more often. Now write short paragraphs about how you performed these tasks. How did you do them differently than your parents would, or how did you do them differently than Batman would? All these techniques can be helpful to find your behavior, but I am confident that there are many others out there that I don’t know about.


The final step. Our identity. This is the most difficult step. This is something you cannot discover by doing tests (unless you want a copy of someone else’s identity). Neither can you ask other people about this. Even though this circle is positioned on the ‘why’ from Simon Sinek, it has little to do with it. Simon Sinek (and Daniel Pinks drive has the same angle) wrote a story that we all should be leaders, inspiring others to accomplish great things. This is not the case.

Our identity is about what we have always been. As a kid, a teenager, but also what you will be when you retire. I don’t know about you, but I don’t dream about being an inspiring leader when I’m 60. As a kid, I did not go to school to accomplish great things. I went there to learn and to have fun! If you are not honest with yourself, you will not find your identity.

So how do you find your identity?

To be honest. I do not know yet, I found mine through a lot of trial and error. But even if I knew, I think it would be better if everyone would go on this adventure by him- or herself. Everything I would tell you, would only point you in a certain direction and just as my mission statement says: I want you to find your own direction.

Discovering my own drive | 1. Concept description

For several years I have been analyzing my own behavior. Performing several personality tests to find out more about myself. Only I haven’t written anything down yet.

So that is what this blogpost is about… My first step to find my own why. To find my internal drive.


This first step is about drafting a concept description of my own why. I need this concept description as basis for discussion. For instance, I can use this concept description to discuss my motivation with relatives and friends. And also project this description over other areas in my life, like my childhood.

So how do I draft this concept description?

1. Define a list of internalized actions

I started defining a list of actions that I regularly perform. This list only contains actions that I perform purely for the experience. Just like Self Determination Theory describes: the actions that you perform for the experience itself. These tasks can also be recognized because they give you energy instead of wasting it.

2. Write about my behavior behind my internalized actions

HOW did I perform these tasks? I chose to write short paragraphs instead of keywords, because I know that keywords are used to limit your thinking. Paragraphs open up new ways and can often reveal more interesting stories behind an action.

3. Mark the words within the paragraph that have the most meaning.

The next step is to mark the words that have the most meaning to me.

These three steps resulted in the following table.


Actions performed purely for the experience.


The behavior behind an internalized action.

Developing. Creating short feedback loops so that I can safely try out many different options, without wasting too much time. I do not like writing code without being able to see what it does.I also love writing code to implement fun, playful features. Sure the basic functionality needs to be in place, but I would rather build a website that is fun to navigate through, then to build something  useful. Unfortunately people sometimes want useful things.Besides writing code I also love developing for test automation. Setting up stubservices and databases to gain full control over an environment.
Testing. I always love to poke around. There are too many situations in my head to write down, so I always start testing by poking around. Within a fully controlled environment. I would rather not write test scripts, but alas these are necessary for future test efforts.Usually I have a focus while poking around. A direction in which I am poking around. Do not mistake this with exploratory testing, this is just poking around.
Organizing events. Luckily I also have a somewhat more social side. I love to work with people. I love to gather people. Organizing drinks with colleagues, setting up (useful) meetings.Next to gathering I also like to inspire / coach them or even to provoke them. But that is not the goal itself. In the end I just want to get a reaction from people. To see how they respond and change. Preferably to become more efficient.
 Jogging. I love to track where I have been on a map. Preferably a map that marks the routes that I already have taken. Then take alternate routes and find out where they lead.
 Gaming. I love RPG’s. Taking the role of a fictional character and changing the world around you. When I play online RPG’s I always try to come up with original tactics / builds that might impress other players and inspire them to improve upon their own tactics / builds. In the end I always seek out the most efficient build for my own playstyle.
Curiosity towards romanticism. The term ‘romance’ has always fascinated me. Even though I find reading books not very efficient, I do love reading about romanticism. Every time I read something about romance it shows me new perspectives. A lot of the things I do not understand about us as humans can be explained as ‘romance’.
Solve puzzles (specifically mathematical ones). Simple puzzles like sudokus I usually try to finish as soon as possible. Challenging my brain to come up with the right numbers in the shortest amount of time. Even though these puzzles are not really challenging, I can’t find an unsolved sudoku and refuse to solve it.For complex puzzles I need to support my thinking process by using my other senses. I draw lines for the patterns that I recognize and I often talk out loud.


4. Analyze and group the marked words

The following words have been marked in the above text:

short feedback loops, fun, playful, full control, poke around, gather people, inspire, coach, provoke, efficient, track, original, impress, efficient, understand, as soon as possible, draw, recognize, talk


The first thing that I recognize is that a lot of the words can be described as ‘trial and error methods’.

Serious trial and error methods: Track, short feedback loops, full control.

Playful trial and error methods: fun, playful, poke around, draw, talk, recognize

For me, trial and error is an important and effective way to learn, to understand. Which also is a keyword in my list.


The next thing I recognize is that the word ‘efficient’ occurs twice, and a third time written down differently: as soon as possible. This word carries a lot more weight than others.


The third part I recognize is more socially oriented and has a lot in common with ‘effect on other people’.

Inspire / coach, Provoke, Impress, gather people


Finally, the last word that remains is ‘original’. Although the word has only a single occurance within the paragraphs, it has more weight than all the other words previously mentioned.

Between all the words that I marked, ‘original’ has no influence in doing the task more efficiently or better at all. It might only be a distraction, making it more difficult to perform the task correctly. For this reason, the word ‘original’ has more meaning then other words.

5. Define a concept description

These are the four insights from step 4:

  • Trial and error (to understand).
  • Efficient.
  • Effect on other people.
  • Original.

Based on these insights I drafted the following concept description:

“I want to understand how things work, so that I can become more efficient in my own original way and inspire others”


Now there still are a lot open questions, like:

  • Do I want to understand? Or also change?
  • What things do I want to understand?
  • Inspire others to do what?
  • And the most important of all: What is my original way?

And probably many more. But with my concept description I can start having constructed discussions.




Where Agile Testing and Intrinsic Motivation meet

Build projects around motivated individuals?

It is 3 ‘o clock as the teacher folds his books and ends his class. He wishes his students good luck with the presentation tomorrow and he is looking forward hearing the results. Outside David approaches Peter: “Crap! I forgot all about the presentation. I don’t understand why he makes us work on these stupid assignments. It is our final year, like we have nothing better to do! And now I have to cancel work to make sure I pass his stupid course”.

Peter responds “Hah! So typical. If you started working on this assignment from day one, you would have plenty of time to prepare for this presentation to get a good grade and work your part-time job… Oh wait, there’s Eric. Eric!”… “Hey Eric, how are you doing on the presentation for tomorrow. I heard your band is playing all over the country now, you must be swamped”.

“Actually-” Eric responds “I talked to the teacher and he told me the purpose of the presentation was to train ourselves in standing in front of an audience. So I convinced him that the assignment would have more value if I could use my guitar and play one of my songs tomorrow. I could use the practise.”


Two out of the three students are motivated for the assignment, but only one of them has the motivation that Agile requires.

For Agile to be truly effective, we need more Eric’s.

What makes Eric different from everyone else? The Agile principle tells us to build projects around motivated individuals. But what does that mean and how can it help a team become effective?

I present you four pieces of my own puzzle that made me understand.

The puzzle

Piece one. Eight years ago, Daniel H. Pink (Drive) showed us the difference between Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation. He showed us that carrots and sticks are manipulators that motivate people to get simple non-heuristic jobs done and that these motivations do not last. However, to build a solid sustainable motivation you need Intrinsic Motivation. Intrinsic Motivation provides: motivated individuals who do not depend on external factors, but can always get the most difficult of jobs done.

Piece two. Self Determination Theory claims there are five different levels of internalization. Although it is just a theory, they make a good point that our motivation is in fact polarized between Intrinsic and Extrinsic. We are never solely motivated by one or the other. Even our own hobbies are occasionally influenced by external factors like money. However, this theory shows us the difference between internalized behavior and externalized behavior. Fully internalized behavior means we perform an action because the experience of the action is fulfilling in itself, we do not require any external stimuli to be motivated.

Piece three. Simon Sinek (Start with Why) gave us the golden circle. He told us that we behave and act from the inside out. Our actions are driven by a gut feeling (the why) and rationalized into behavior and actions.

Piece four. Steven Reiss wrote a paper about our 16 internal drives. Claiming that all our behavior, all our actions originate from these internal drives (the why’s as Simon Sinek puts it). That our behavior (how’s) changes over time, and can be different in every situation. Our internal drives however, remain constant. They don’t vary per situation and they do not change over the years. They are what defines us, what makes each person unique. We all have our own internal drives, but the difficulty lies in finding them. Steven Reiss captured our Internal Drives in 16 different drives, where each person has his own ‘fingerprint’.

Solving the puzzle

These are my key learning parts:

  • To build a solid sustainable motivation you need Intrinsic Motivation.
  • Internalized behavior (Intrinsic Motivation) means we perform an action because the experience of the action is fulfilling in itself.
  • Our actions are driven by a gut feeling (the why), developed in our limbic brain and rationalized into behavior and actions.
  • Our behavior (how’s) changes over time, and can be different in every situation. Our internal drives however (why), remain constant.

So basically our motivation comes from our internal drives. Once we act according to these internal drives, we become motivated.


Unfortunately Agile failed to mention that you actually need individuals that are motivated to behave and act in the best interest of the project.

This means putting motivated people together does not guarantee success. You can build projects around motivated individuals and still get awful results. You need people that have internal drives that can benefit the project.

Fortunately I also have good news. Because our motivation comes from our internal drives we are not limited to specific tasks. Each internal drive can be used in any situation to take on any task. But someone driven by social relationships will perform the task ‘automate test case X’ in a different manner than someone driven by accomplishment.

Let me explain with an example from myself. One of my internal drives is Exploring. I can use this drive to quickly understand the basic functions of any system, or to try out several automation tools to discover the benefits of each, but I can also use this drive to analyze and fix bugs (improve my developing skills). However I should not use this drive when giving a demo presentation for the stakeholders.

Luckily, we all are driven by multiple internal drives and we can focus on any of them whenever we want to.

The trick in Agile projects is to know your own motivation (internal drives) and claim the appropriate tasks for yourself – which do not have to be limited to your testing background.

Finding your own motivation

To find your own motivation you should draw out your own motivation map. It is basically the same as the golden circle from Simon Sinek (a circle within a circle within a circle), only replace the following words:

  • What -> Actions (outer layer)
  • How -> Behavior (between layer)
  • Why -> Internal Drives (the center)

Start with your actions. Which of the actions you perform, are solely because the experience of doing is satisfying in itself? Which actions give you energy while doing? Write these down in the outer layer of your motivation map.

Then analyze your behavior. How do you perform these actions that makes them so satisfying? How do you behave differently than other people? Remember that our behavior changes a lot in each situation and also over the years. Write these behaviors down in the between layer of your motivation map, but only write down the behavior that gives you energy.

Finally the most important step. Finding your own internal drives (It might help to look up the 16 drives of Steven Reiss). What connects your different behavior? Why do you show certain behavior? Finding the answers might be difficult, but when you find an answer that does not vary per situation or change over the years, your unto something! Write these answers down in the center of your motivation map.

This is not an assignment you can finish in a few minutes, but I recommend everyone to spend some serious time in finding your own internal drives. If you spend enough time on your internal drives, they will become clearer over time. And as your internal drives become clearer to you, you can more easily motivate yourself for various tasks.


Build projects around motivated individuals.

  • To build a solid sustainable motivation you need Intrinsic Motivation.
  • Internalized behavior (Intrinsic Motivation) means we perform an action because the experience of the action is fulfilling in itself.
  • Our actions are driven by a gut feeling (the why) and rationalized into behavior and actions.
  • Our behavior (how’s) changes over time, and can be different in every situation. Our internal drives however (why), do not change over the years.

Our motivation comes from our internal drives. Once we act according to these internal drives, we become motivated.

The trick in Agile projects is to know your own motivation (internal drives) and find the appropriate tasks for you – which do not have to be limited to your testing background.

To find your motivation you must know the actions that give you energy; analyze the behavior behind the action; and make the connections to find your internal drives.

<= My World

Hi again,

If you just visited this website, you might wonder what this strange looking object at the left side of my blog is.

Let me enlighten you.

Many years ago (as a multimedia design student) I realized that every product I create or every idea I want to write about can be categorized under four different sections: Interactive (everything that responds to user input); Videos (things that animate); Documents (Reading material); and Personal (information I want to share for personal reasons).

A few years later I realized that these four sections can also be applied to myself. They are four different facets of my own personality.

  • Interactive: Focusing on the interactions with my environment and actively influencing other people.
  • Videos: Passively observing my environment. Just watching people or nature. Going hiking or jogging are part of this.
  • Documents: Learning from other people’s experiences. Listening to other people. This can be from a book or face to face. But I have to admit that I often become focused on the interactive part in conversations – I know I need to listen more often.
  • Personal: Reflecting on what I know and who I am.

For me, this system symbolizes my world: where each sections represents a different part of my personality.

So when I was 22 I created my first world based on this system. It was 3D world divided into four continents. Each continent resembled one of the four facets. With a mouse you could navigate through the world to find my work. Unfortunately this project fried my computer while rendering. I lost all my work – 3d models, animations and the code.

After this tiny hiccup I created version 2 of my world. I had a new computer. So I build a new 3D world… And yet again, I fried my computer. Not fun…

At age 24 I decided to create my third version as a prop. I used a space hopper for the frame and with paper mache I added depth to my world. I painted the surface and used Lego amongst other things to make my world ‘alive’.

Luckily, this third version still exists on the internet.

My 4th version of my world is the one you see on the left side of my blog. I replaced all the lego by miniature models, grass and other raw materials and programmed it with HTML5 / JS / PHP. Javascript allows you to use your mouse (click and drag) to swipe my world. I use the wordpress variables to add blobs on this world for the blog posts I write (the size resembling the recentness of the post). This way you can still navigate through my world to find out what I wrote about over the years :)

Intrinsic Motivation Agent (IMA)


My name is Fin Kingma. And I am an Motivational Agent.

Specifically, an Intrinsic Motivation¹ Agent.

Let me tell you a story.

About four years ago, I picked up Dan Pink’s book Drive. And it inspired me to dig deeper. To find out what Intrinsic Motivation means and how we can use its strengths. After all, I was an interaction design student: I created prototypes for products to make the world a better place (according to my standards).

So I started digging up other theories: Herzberg motivation / hygiene, Maslow pyramid, Reiss’ drives and Self Determination Theory. Out of this equation came two graduation projects, the motivation campaign and the Light Gun.

I learned how to manipulate users to ²internalize their motivations for their actions. To actually WANT them to turn off their lights or to not hate doing their dishes.

I still had a lot to learn, but that discovery changed my life. I no longer was a Design Student. I became an IMA (Intrinsic Motivation Agent). I did not just design products that internalized the motivation of users. I also brought other graduating students together so they could motivate each other in a more effective way.

After graduation I discovered that I could reach a much broader audience as a Consultant, so I took a job at Capgemini.

Two years have passed since. Much has changed: I am not a designer anymore. I am an Agile Test Consultant and occasionally Front-end Developer. but I am still an IMA.

Since a few months I started as Scrum Master in a self organizing team. I now use my knowledge of Intrinsic Motivation to facilitate and inspire a team to overcome their / our daily challenges.

So that’s how I got to this point. To the decision of writing another blog.

I want to use this blog to write about my experiences as an IMA.


¹Intrinsic Motivation means that both the energy and the direction of what you do comes from yourself, instead of an external source.

²Internalization is the amount you are driven by Intrinsic Motivation instead of External Motivation. No single action is 100% driven by Intrinsic Motivation.