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

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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Dec 27, 11

Read in March, 2010

According to the author, “When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system— which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators—doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way” (p. 204).

Daniel H. Pink is a best-selling author and former speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. In this book, he synthesizes research from psychology and economics to provide a new explanation for why people are motivated. The book includes many examples and a series of exercises at the end so that readers can develop their own ways of thinking about motivation. You can a video of Pink discussing his ideas at ted.com.

The Failure of Motivation 2.0

Pink outlines three basic ways to explain human motivation. Motivation 1.0 was the period of time when humans were motivated to survive—finding food and shelter and avoiding predators. Motivation 2.0 was characterized by the Industrial Age when humans did monotonous jobs and were motivated by pay and other incentives. Today, Pink argues that humans are more intrinsically motivated and doing creative work. Yet we still use external motivation in many ways, which is not effective. Pink cites these specific examples of how carrots-and- sticks motivators fail:
• They can extinguish intrinsic motivation;
• They can diminish performance;
• They can crush creativity;
• They can crowd out good behavior;
• They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior;
• They can become addictive;
• They can foster short-term thinking.
External motivators can be effective for rewarding routine tasks, if they are unexpected, and if they are non- tangible.

Encouraging Type I Behaviors

Pink labels behavior that is externally motivated as Type X and that which is motivated internally as Type I. He argues that today, Type I behavior is more common and should be encouraged. Three elements are key to Type I behavior: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
To encourage autonomy, people must be in control of:
• The tasks they perform;
• The time when they work;
• The technique used to complete the task;
• The team they work with.

People should also be encouraged to develop mastery of their work, reaching a state of “flow.” To do so, people must develop a mindset that embraces mastery, the perseverance to master a subject, and the knowledge they will never do so.

Finally, people must have a clear purpose for their lives. They must have goals, they must use purpose-oriented language, and workplace policies must promote the quest for the higher good. Pink writes, “It’s our nature to seek purpose. But that nature is now being revealed and expressed on a scale that is demographically unprecedented and, until recently, scarcely imaginable” (p. 144-145).
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