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

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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Jul 07, 14


Here is a book with a new take on motivation:
We know that 'businesses' have always been profit-maximizers. The new entities are, however, purpose-maximizers. The author offers examples like Wikipedia to substantiate his point. This is not to argue that profit is no longer a motive for business. It is. There is, however, a shift towards 'purpose' as the motivator. Pink calls the old ‘carrot and stick’ motivation as Motivation 2.0 and the ‘new’ intrinsically based motivation as 3.0.

Intrinsic motivation is of great importance for all economic activities. It is inconceivable that people are motivated solely by external incentives. Behaviourial scientists divide what we do and learn in two categories: ‘algorithm’ and ‘heuristic’. In the former, where you largely follow instructions for a repetitive process is encouraged by Motivation 2.0 and the latter which is largely creative is encouraged by Motivation 3.0.

Pink argues - and successfully demonstrates - that contingent rewards – if you do this, you will get that – have a negative effect on motivation. That is so because the ‘if-then’ motivation results in autonomy of the individual over his performance and effort. These rewards work in the short term but do considerable damage in the long term; it undermines intrinsic motivation.

Rewards narrow our focus and often dull creativity. They blinker the vision – hardly a recipe for creativity.
Intrinsic motivation is essential for high level of creativity. Outstanding painters, sculptors, artists and indeed people from all walks of life stay motivated even when the remuneration appears inadequate and even non-existent.
Intrinsically set goals promote autonomy and mastery and are healthy. Extrinsically imposed goals, on the other hand, can be de-motivating and thus dangerous. The problem with extrinsically set goals is that people want to get there quickly, even by taking the low road.

Companies that focus on immediate profit typically tend to invest less on research and development.
Contrast that approach with behaviour sparked by intrinsically set goals. When the reward is the activity itself – the deepening of learning, taking genuine care of customers and doing one’s best etc – there are no shortcuts.

The approach of reward based motivation is disturbingly similar to addiction – the result of giving another dose of cocaine, nicotine and amphetamines evokes the same activity inside the brain as monetary rewards. The feeling delights, then dissipates, then demands another dose.
Greatness and near-sightedness are incompatible.
The essential requirement for extrinsic reward is that it should be unexpected and only offered at the end of the task.

The ‘third drive’ argues that we all have three innate psychological needs – autonomy, competence and relatedness.
Intrinsic desires evoke the ‘third drive’ – less concern for external rewards and satisfaction with the activity itself. Type ‘I’ s (those driven intrinsically) always outperform type ‘X’s (those driven extrinsically by reward or fear) in the long run. They do not have a disdain for external reward but that is never at the heart of their motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a renewable source and promotes well-being.

Autonomy, mastery and purpose are at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

Mastery is produced by 'flow' – in being so enthralled by the task at hand that self-consciousness dissolves. People who are in the flow are so absorbed and feel so much in control in that moment that sense of time, place and even self melts away. Pink reminds us of three 'truths':
Mastery is a mindset.
Mastery involves pain.
Mastery is asymptote i.e. one can always approach mastery but never reach it.

Flow, the deep sense of engagement that Motivation 3.0 calls for is the ‘oxygen of the soul’. Children seek flow with the inevitability of natural laws. So should we!

Purpose. Those who work for something greater than themselves achieve more. Satisfaction depends not only in having goals, but having the right goals.

At the back of the book, Pink offers a Toolkit. A sample:
Ask yourself the Big Question – what describes you in one sentence? Is that who you want to be?
Then ask yourself the Small Question – are you better today than yesterday? Did you do more? Did you do it better? That should tell you whether your 'drive' is up and running.

An interesting book with a great insight into intrinsically generated motivation.
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