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

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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Oct 15, 11

bookshelves: finished, brain
Read in October, 2011, read count: 1

Six decades ago, Harry Harlow discovered that monkeys would solve puzzles because they enjoyed it, but once he introduced a reward, their performance would worsen. Subsequent work was done by Douglas McGregor, who in 1960 observed that people have drives aside from responding to reward and punishment. In 1977, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan began collaborating on this subject. Their "self-determination theory" identifies three innate needs -- competence, autonomy, and relatedness -- on which our motivation, productivity, and happiness rely. In 2002, Kahneman and Tversky received the Noble Prize for their work in behavioral economics. They argued, in Pink's words: "That hyperrational calculator-brained person wasn't real. He was a convenient fiction."

Pink outlines three psychological drives:
"Motivation 1.0": Survival.
"Motivation 2.0": Attempting to control others' behavior through reward and punishment. Pink refers to personality types who prefer reward and punishment as "Type X" for "extrinsically motivated". Edward Deci found that Type X personalities were more likely to be Type A personalities as well (competitive, impatient, and so forth).
"Motivation 3.0": Doing something for the love of it. Pink refers to these personality types as "Type I" for "intrinsically motivated". He believes that "our basic nature is to be curious and self-directed" and if we are not this way in adulthood "it's because something flipped our default setting." Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state "flow."

He says a business should ask itself whether it is a "profit maximizer" or a "purpose maximizer."

He argues that "if-then" rewards should be used in the workplace only as incentives for boring tasks, e.g. If you enter 1,000 rows in the spreadsheet, then you will receive a $100 bonus. For more creative tasks, a "now that" reward system is more effective, e.g. Now that we've signed contracts with three new important clients, let's celebrate with a party. What he calls the "Sawyer effect" describes how "rewards can perform a weird sort of behavioral alchemy: They can transform an interesting task into a drudge. They can turn play into work. And by diminishing intrinsic motivation, they can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behavior toppling like dominoes." He thinks that most employees function best when they are self-directed, and as a consequence, the word "management" should perhaps go "onto the linguistic ash heap alongside 'icebox' and 'horseless carriage.'"

Teresa Amabile has found that rewards are better suited for logical tasks, not creative problem-solving, since people who receive rewards tend to focus on the how to achieve the reward rather than contemplate the "periphery" that is the source of creative innovation.

Punishments for unfair behavior can actually increase the unfair behavior. One experiment showed that monetary fines for inconveniencing a child-care provider increased such violations because the subjects felt they had purchased the right to break the rule.
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