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

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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's review
Dec 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

This book has been on my "to read" shelf for some time, and while I had read some excerpts, understood the general ideas and seen the excellent RSA Animate excerpt (, there is far more here than is generally summed up.

This book became extremely interesting because it was juxtaposed with a discussion of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs published shortly after his death. A coworker not known for his managerial skills but who is respected for his results read the Jobs book and commented that his biggest takeaway from Steve Jobs' contribution was that despite my coworker's abusive management style, he was far to kind to his employees. Jobs was notable for his often abrasive and abusive style in pursuit of better results, and many seem to believe that his willingness to disregard others in pursuit of excellence was one of the secrets to Jobs' success. Dan Pink's "Drive" offers an alternative explanation and is excellent lens into the true genius of Steve Jobs and those like him.

In reality, Pink shows that the strongest results regardless of the field generally come from individuals that are intrinsically rather than externally motivated. Pounding on people in any setting produces short term results, but as Pink shows, can have disastrous long term consequences. Despite this, Jobs and other tyranical managers often show results. I suggest that the reason for their success is really in their ability to choose talent and offer vision rather than their work style. Pink shows via numerous examples that, given resources, freedom and opportunity to develop themselves, people will seek the highest and best use for themselves.

While much of the book is a survey of other work (Arielly is mentioned by name, and there is much that is reminiscent of Talib and Gladwell), Pink goes further and adds some insight of his own by expanding on the idea of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivations.

More importantly, he adds a series of practical suggestions for developing intrinsic motivation in a number of settings at the end of the book. Practical applications are what is most often missing from books of this genre and his suggestions are welcome.

In the end the book is an easy read and is definitely not a panacea for management skill in any setting. But it delivers in the area that it should. It provides a foundation for the reader to consider specific ways they can improve themselves and others. In other words, the book makes you think.
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