Alice's Reviews > Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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Mar 25, 11

bookshelves: 2011, audio, library, nonfiction
Read in March, 2011

This was an interesting look into human motivation. It posits that humans are, by nature, intrinsically motivated, but that we learn, through school and upbringing and various supervisors' approaches, to only perform for a reward. The intrinsic motivation, Pink argues, is what drives creativity and innovation, and so we need to foster it.

I couldn't poke a lot of holes in Pink's arguments. I have some psychology background, so a lot of the psychological concepts and history he discusses made sense to me, though I'm not sure the average reader picking this up would follow as well. He doesn't acknowledge the Skinnerian concept that, in order for something to increase behavior in learning, it must be meaningful, which I found a curious hole in his argument. Surely, self-actualization is far more meaningful than a little extra food or being able to afford the cool gadget this paycheck instead of next.

Regardless, there were a lot of points he did raise that were interesting, and it was nice to see so many psychological and economical concepts tied together. He makes a point about how a higher salary doesn't matter once you reach a comfort zone, and that higher than that actually inhibits performance. I was glad to see that included, and repeated for the slow readers. Not that I know many overpaid executives, but there does seem to be a trend emerging lately that being paid big bucks doesn't mean someone is doing a better job.

My biggest complaint about this book is that it's read by the author. While that is the least confusing way for a sometimes first-person nonfiction account to be presented, Pink is not trained in voice acting. There wasn't anything wrong with his reading, but he often came across as flat or droning, like a lecturer who's talked about the subject hundreds of times already.

Overall, I think this is a book that goes beyond teaching executives how to motivate their employees, and that I think a lot of people might benefit from. If nothing else, run your company through the 4-T analysis Pink discusses in the exercises section, and, if your company doesn't stack up, recommend your supervisor or his/her higher-up read this book. Or consider writing your resignation letter, because that place is smothering your soul.

I know. I went from a very low-autonomy company to my current job, which rates very high in autonomy. Though my current job is higher in stress and extremely challenging, I find it a lot more satisfying, and now I know why.
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