the SPACEMAP is dead, long live the SPACECAR

Please forgive. I did not know better at the time.

I’m sorry to all of you, for making you believe our intrinsic motivation focuses on factors like Purpose and Mastery. That our Intrinsic Motivation is determined based on making the world a better place or being the best at what we do.

For many years I believed that the terms Purpose and Mastery were actual improvements on the Self Determination Theory, but over the past few years, I slowly started to realize that these terms have distanced ourselves from the truth.

It sounds great. Inspiring even, but it’s not true. Even worse, believing that our Intrinsic Motivation is determined by such unrealistic goals, makes us chase something that is in fact, unreachable.

But aren’t we motivated by helping the world and being awesome?

Yes, but to a much lesser degree than terms like ‘Purpose’ and ‘Mastery’ make us believe.

An answer that lies closer to the truth can be found in the original works of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan (Self Determination Theory, 1960). They also spoke of 3 work factors, of which one already sounds familiar: ‘Autonomy’.

However, instead of Purpose, the original works spoke of Relatedness. Which meant nothing more than being part of a group. Being able to relate to something beyond yourself. We don’t want to change the world, we just want to be part of it.

Next, instead of Mastery, the term competence was used. It was never about being the best at what we do. We just want to feel competent at what we do.

In its most basic form, our motivation comes down the following sentence:

“We all want to be part of a group and to make ourselves useful.”

Hence, the new SPACE-CAR

Basically just replacing mastery with competence, and purpose with relatedness.

The old spacemap can be found here.


The internalisation model – how we have created responsive behaviour

Motivation is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. For years I have been passioned about motivation, giving talks and workshops about the subject. The first model I visualized (and still use a lot), is the internalization model. It originates from the Self Determination Theory.

Everything you do is based on a specific type of motivation. It’s the reasoning behind your actions. Quite often we are not even aware of these reasons. Internalized motivation is the polarization at which your motivation comes from yourself, versus an external factor. Highly internalized motivation comes primarily from yourself, and low internalized motivation comes from external factors.

According to the Self Determination Theory, internalization can be broken down into five areas:

  1. External motivation => Forced. This is when you act primarily based on external factors (you want the money, or you are trying to avoid punishment)
  2. Introjected motivation => Pressure. Whenever someone pressures you into something, you are motivated from this level. Salespeople are exceptionally well skilled in using this type of motivation (usually called manipulation) to get people to purchase.
  3. Identified motivation => Social. The motivation to do something for someone you care about. Doing the dishes for your partner is a good example.
  4. Integrated motivation => Goals. Anything that you personally would like to achieve, but haven’t achieved yet. The internalization is high here, but you are still depending on something you haven’t accomplished yet. Basically, any skill that you want to learn.
  5. Intrinsic motivation => Experience. And eventually, the motivation level that everyone talks about these days, Intrinsic Motivation. Intrinsic Motivation only occurs when you don’t care about a specific outcome. The experience of doing it is rewarding enough in itself.

At work, these five levels are constantly used by colleagues and companies. Few people realize what the effects are.

The internalization determines for a large part how we behave.

Fully externalized motivation leads to responsive and passive behavior. People who are used to being pressured or always expect rewards or punishments will mainly respond to those specific stimuli. Whenever these stimuli are absent, these people show passive behavior. We have taught them to only act when we want them (through our external motivation). Many organizations are still showing these problems, where employees show responsive or passive behavior. But that’s not because they want to, it’s because our industry created that type of behavior!

On the other hand, Intrinsic Motivation leads to proactive and self-determined behavior. People who understand why their contribution is important, will fight for the companies vision and find new ways to realize this vision while making use of their own skills.

Methods like Agile (slowly even entering non-ICT departments) are highly dependent on Intrinsic Motivation, but there is still little awareness of how this works. And we cannot even influence employees based on Intrinsic Motivation (if we could influence it, it would not be intrinsic anymore). Fortunately, we can use Integrated Motivation to motivate employees. By making employees understand what the vision and the purpose of a product and company is. We need to make them understand how they as an individual can contribute to our vision.

Extrinsic Motivation overrules Intrinsic Motivation

The most dangerous thing about extrinsic motivation is that it overrules already existant Intrinsic Motivation. Take painting for example… Painting is an activity that most children like to do for fun. Research shows that when these children are given external rewards – they are given money – these external rewards will slowly overrule our already existent Intrinsic Motivation. Over time, there will be no Intrinsic Motivation left. At that moment, these people will only paint when they are being forced or pressured. Their Intrinsic Motivation has been completely overruled.

Intrinsic Motivation enhanced our creative ability

Over the last decade, another experiment has been conducted over and over again, called: ‘The Candle Problem‘. This experiment uses a puzzle, which can only be solved by thinking out of the box.

Two groups are presented with this puzzle. Group 1 hears that the fastest person to solve this puzzle gets a reward in the form of prize money. They are being motivated externally.

Group 2 doesn’t hear anything. They will just solve the puzzle using their own motivation.

And over the years, the result has been the same: the group that does not receive money is faster in solving this puzzle.

Conclusion: People who do not expect an external reward, are better at solving complex puzzles.


SPACEMAP – organising a motivational environment

Introducing the Space-map! A ‘map’ to gain insight into motivational problems within an organization/department, so that coaches and managers no longer have to talk about vague motivation problems, but instead tackling the lack of autonomy within the teams.

The map consists of generic ‘work factors’ that are required to create a motivational environment.

the Space-map was developed by Xebia coaches

We want to understand and give meaning to our life (which is our motivation). But we get distracted by hygiene factors.



Hygiene work factors are everything that can hold you back. These are work factors that are mainly visible when absent. When absent, employees will complain about these factors. In due time, this can even result in an increase in sick days or a higher turnout in organizations.

These work factors are basically what we need before we can be motivated.

Psychological Safety

Ever since Google has researched this subject, there has been enough information about this. So I will be brief and explain this factor as setting a positive work environment where people feel appreciated and safe to experiment and learn.

Read more:


People require (job) security and clarity. Work expectations have to be clear to everyone. When work expectations are unclear, this will make people feel insecure about their job. Are you doing a good job? If you comfortably dare to answer “yes”, you’re probably fine with that part. Job security is important both inside and outside your current employer. Do you have a healthy set of competencies and skills, so that even when you are fired, you can easily get a new job? In that case, the job security at your current employer will become less relevant.


This is mainly about honest compensation. Do you make enough money for the work that you do? And do you carry enough responsibility? Compensation becomes a sensitive job factor when you work with people who make more money than you but deliver less value to the company. Or colleagues with a higher function title, with little understanding of their own job. Even people you meet at parties and conferences have a big impact on whether you feel fairly compensated in your day-to-day job.


Do you have access to the correct resources and tools to do your job? Do you have your own workplace, or do you have to get up way too early to claim your table, because your manager has heard some nice things about ‘flextime’? Environment is mainly about the things that you need to get your job done in a way that you could be proud of. Do you have access to the right software and a new laptop? Do you have access to printers, coffee, brainstorm rooms, whiteboards with markers? Anything that can help you with your job.


Given that we all want a happy and meaningful life, the following work factors can be directly accredited to this goal.


We want to grow and become the best version of ourselves. We want to learn who we are, what we can do and what our limits are. As Edward Deci and Richard Ryan say in Self Determination Theory: “People are active, development-oriented organisms who behave to encounter challenges, to toy with danger, to experience more facets of their being, including, at times, pain and displeasure“.

Read more:


Autonomy is the need to be self-directing, to have the freedom to decide how you live your life. The need to be able to do the right thing, the right way. To take control over your life.

Read more:


We want to know how our efforts can have an impact. We want to understand how our efforts can contribute to a greater cause, to something bigger than ourselves.

Read more:


The Space-map excludes:
  • Lack of specialists knowledge (we can’t build this story without a performance tester!)
  • An out of balance team (We have too many testers in the team, what can I do?)
  • Personal problems.