Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Daniel H. Pink
Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it's precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today's challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation: *Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives *Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters *Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward. Drive is bursting with big ideas—the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.


Reviewed: 2020-04-04
Reviewed: 2019-09-02
Daniel Pink's "Drive" is a book about the way that motivation has changed in the last few decades. Businesses are still trying to motivate employees using a "Motivation 2.0" model, which uses rewards and punishments to elicit desired behavior. Pink argues that this model no longer applies to most people, because the kind of by-the-numbers work for which this model was effective is increasingly being automated or off-shored. Instead, Pink argues, modern day work requires a great deal more creativity, an aspect that makes "Motivation 2.0" worse than ineffective, it makes it counter-productive.

Pink offers some studies and data to back up his assertion that using external rewards actually demotivates people when it comes to creative work that they are passionate about. He makes a decent case, though I've heard a great deal of it before.

Pink is on to something. If your company is using external rewards to induce creativity from employees, it's probably doing more harm than good. The book provides a wealth of case studies (more than it does scientific studies) showing how various businesses embraced his "Motivation 3.0" model and were successful as a result of it. It's all very interesting, and likely to make you think quite a bit about how you are motivated and what your company can do to help encourage people to get into a state of "flow"

This book should be read along with "A Whole New Mind." Though the books are not directly related, Pink covers a lot of related material: namely that the world is moving increasingly in the direction of creativity in business. In AWNM, Pink makes the case that this is so, and in Drive he makes the case that, given that it is so, we need to adjust how we think about motivation. Both books are short and quite good.

I found Drive to be very thought-provoking, though heavy on the anecdotes and light on the science. Nonetheless, I found the case he presents to be quite compelling. My main issue with his argument is this:

1) Pink argues that, unlike a few decades ago, today's work is often ENJOYABLE to employees and requires CREATIVE thought.
2) When work has those two attributes, intrinsic motivation is much more effective than extrinsic motivation, which actually hurts productivity.
3) When work lacks both of those attributes, extrinsic motivation is still the most effective.

So my question is, what about when the work only has one of those attributes? The book does little to address how best to construct a healthy environment for people when their work is either CREATIVE but does not illicit passion, or PASSIONATE but requires no creativity.

I would argue that the latter category could do quite well with intrinsic motivation as well, which means that the effectiveness of the motivation technique is tied not to creativity (as Pink argues) but to passion. If this is the case, I am at a lost for how best to help people remain motivated when their work requires creativity but they are not passionate about it. A student who hates writing but is doing an essay assignment is required to use creativity (their essay does not fit an existing mold), but they have no passion for it. Is that student better off with intrinsic motivation or extrinsic? If intrinsic, how do you help someone develop their own motivation to complete work they hate? If extrinsic, won't the quality of the creative work suffer?

This glaring issue goes completely unaddressed by the book, but the fact that the book gives me this much to think about and consider is a good sign that it is an interesting book worthy of a read. I recommend it.
Reviewed: 2018-10-06
Item Posts
@mbrucks completed #drivethesurprisi... on 2018-12-01
@mbrucks began #drivethesurprisi... on 2018-11-18
@chrisquick completed #drivethesurprisi... on 2017-08-26