I read 39 books in 2009, just “a few” shy of my goal of 50. Thanks to a little nudge from Art Johnson (@artjohnson) and some tips from Julien Smith, I...moreI read 39 books in 2009, just “a few” shy of my goal of 50. Thanks to a little nudge from Art Johnson (@artjohnson) and some tips from Julien Smith, I’ve set my 2010 sights just a little bit higher: a book a week, for a total of 52. I got the list off to a good start this weekend when I finished this latest from Dan Pink. Interestingly, one of the first books I read in 2009 was also one of his, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.
In that previous book, as the title suggests, Pink describes the type of workers that will emerge – actually are emerging – to solve the complex business and social problems now facing us. Taking that as a starting point in Drive, Pink provides some guidance on what will be necessary to “manage” these new types of worker by exploring the what motivates these workers to perform. Or, as the title put its, what drives them.
Part One of the book explores the evolution of the motivation "operating systems" at play throughout human history and how the science of motivation is leading us to version 3.0 of that Motivation OS. Or, at least, how it should be leading us to this new version. I found it fascinating that much of what Pink describes in the book is not new at all, but has been known for several decades. Known and ignored. Known and actively buried buy those who just couldn't believe it or didn't want to accept what it meant for them and their positions of control within organizations. Fascinating reading.
At the end of Part One, Pink delves into the differences between workers who are intrinsically (Type I) and extrinsically (Type X) motivated, and leads right into Part Two, which explores the three elements that make up Type I behavior: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The chapters for each of these elements includes some insight into each, along with practical examples of what they mean.
Part Three is the "Type I Toolkit", which includes suggestions, reading lists, and other tools for individuals and organizations to help them become more Type I. As Pink says, Type I's are made, not born, and this toolkit can help you remake yourself, or your organization, as a Type I.
Perhaps the most damning statement about the current state of affairs comes in the sentence: "Unfortunately...the modern workplace's most notable feature may be its lack of engagement and its disregard for mastery." Longtime readers of my blogs know that mastery is a concept I’ve long thought and written about. Pink’s chapter on mastery in the context of work pulls together many ideas that I’ve struggled with over the years. This chapter alone was worth the price of the book.
Full of great stories of collaboration in the world of dance, there are many lessons about how, when, and why to collaborate to be learned here. These...moreFull of great stories of collaboration in the world of dance, there are many lessons about how, when, and why to collaborate to be learned here. These lessons don't apply just to the world of dance, though, they are lessons that can be applied in just about any type of project.
A quick read, entertaining and quite informative. Well worth the time spent reading it, if you are involved in any kind of creative endeavor that involves other people you should definitely add this to your reading list.(less)
Lots to think about on the history of higher education in the US and why it is the way it is today. Thoughts on the value of a traditional education,...moreLots to think about on the history of higher education in the US and why it is the way it is today. Thoughts on the value of a traditional education, especially in the context of the amount of debt you take on in order to get the diploma. Some discussion of why tuition costs rise so much faster than everything else.
Some good discussion about alternative paths to learning, and as the title implies an argument that everyone is - or can be - in control of their own educational future. Anyone can, with very few limits, learn whatever they want to learn. The resources are available. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that Kamenetz didn't take advantage of an obvious reference to the story line of "Good Will Hunting", especially when she discusses MIT's publishing of all course material for free online.
The challenge for now, and for the foreseeable future, is how all of these "uneducated" people who have taken their own learning path can make a place for themselves in the world of work. I would recommend they read a couple of the other books on my list, especially anything by Seth Godin, "Ignore Everybody" and "Rework". (less)
In his new book, Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky covers some of the same ground as several other authors I've read this year. But even though some of t...moreIn his new book, Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky covers some of the same ground as several other authors I've read this year. But even though some of the starting material may be the same - such as the Israeli day care story - Shirky tells a very different story, with a very different moral and outcome than those other books. (In case you're wondering, the two that come immediately to mind are Dan Pink's Drive and Seth Godin's Linchpin.)
The upshot of the book is that in the last half of twentieth century people found themselves, in general, with a higher level of education and a larger amount of free time than at most any other time in history, while at the same time "accidents" of technology and policy created an environment of increased social isolation (think interstates, suburbs, and TV). The means did not exist for individuals to easily share their knowledge or their interests, and the ability to organize large groups around an interest was reserved for the well financed.
As a result, we - especially in the US - became a nation of consumers. Even as the technology has developed over the past decade or so to allow for broad sharing and easy organizing, Shirky says, we are only now coming to understand the implications and actually be ready to take advantage of the opportunities this technology presents. And this, in the end, is the point of the book: We have an abundance of opportunities available to us as a result of the technologies of social media (and all that entails), and it is our responsibility to take advantage of those opportunities. (less)
Many of the books I've read this year have referenced - either explicitly or implicitly - this fantastic book. Written nearly 20 years ago, it is stil...moreMany of the books I've read this year have referenced - either explicitly or implicitly - this fantastic book. Written nearly 20 years ago, it is still relevant. My copy is now heavily annotated and dog-eared, I'm going to have to go back through my notes and delve deeper into the ideas. Highly recommended.(less)
Have been looking at the applications of games to work and school lately, hadn't really considered that for careers. Interesting idea, well executed....moreHave been looking at the applications of games to work and school lately, hadn't really considered that for careers. Interesting idea, well executed. More later.(less)
I enjoyed this book. Though it does address the amateur spirit (aka "American character") it is more a comparison of amateurs and professionals within...moreI enjoyed this book. Though it does address the amateur spirit (aka "American character") it is more a comparison of amateurs and professionals within several different fields, from bird watching to telescope building to biohacking. The term amateur has many connotations, and Jack Hitt explores many of them. In addition to great content, I love Hitt's writing style. Informative, engaging, and funny.(less)