Stephen Joyce's Reviews > Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Daniel H. Pink

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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Jun 27, 12

bookshelves: popular-science
Read from June 26 to 27, 2012

Money doesn’t work. That’s the conclusion of this fascinating book that aims to revolutionise thinking on how businesses motivate employees.

The book’s thesis builds on comprehensive social and behavioural science research published over the last 40 years but largely ignored by the business community. Social scientist Daniel H Pink creates a coherent argument in favour of a new operating model, Motivation 3.0, an evolutionary jump from Motivation 1.0 (base survival) and Motivation 2.0 (external rewards and punishments).

‘Carrot and stick’ style reward structures can still be effective for low-skilled, mechanistic tasks but not for those that require right brain, creative thinking.
Heuristic tasks require focus and free thought. A cluster of behavioural science studies show that paying people to do better is damaging because money becomes a distraction, limits creativity and encourages excessive risk taking (the 2008 financial crisis is mentioned).

Cash incentives do not work for conceptual problems or creating innovative solutions. Money is only a threshold motivator; a base salary is crucial for getting people to turn up at work and taking the issue of financial reward off the table. Beyond that, the promise of big bonuses etc. is counter productive.

So what really drives people to produce their best work?

Pink identifies three key motivators. They are all intrinsic rather than extrinsic, i.e. they emerge from within. This makes them incredibly powerful.

First, Autonomy: we have an innate desire to take control over our own lives and work – the time we spend, the task itself and how we do it. This is not shallow ‘empowerment’ as implemented by some companies in recent years. Real autonomy involves a level of employee trust that seems way beyond most current managers would countenance, e.g. no set working hours or methods.

Second, Mastery: the satisfaction from being extremely proficient and skilled at something. Those who are allowed to pursue brilliance tend to be more engaged and higher achievers.

Third, Purpose: we need meaning in work, the ability to contribute to something larger than ourselves. It is an “emotional catalyst” to individual outperformance, that can be obtained simply from the goals and policies of an organisation being defined and articulated in the right way.

Currently, there is a mismatch between what science knows about these drivers and what business does to satisfy them. Evidence is ignored because it is apparently counter intuitive. Pink proposes to create alignment between what
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