Review: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few days ago I tweeted,

How bad would it be for me to anonymously leave a copy of @DanielPink ‘s book Drive on the desk of every exec[utive] at work?

First, I actually think every person supervising others and even those working in our flat teams should study and implement this. The good news is I already see hints of it in the work place nestled in the cracks. Knowing why these behaviors improve performance and taking it to the next level is the dream. We have superstar teams and this is why. Second, ever since I watched the Pink’s TED Talk and RSA videos, these ideas are things I mention. The book just adds more fuel to the fire.

This is a easy read. The appendix contains a summary of how to apply these ideas as an individual, an organization, or as an educator. And the bibliography gives me the changes to dive even deeper.

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Motivation 3.0

A recent event reminded me I should read Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. I picked it up in August to read, but since my copy is a hard back the Georgia heat would warp it, so I left it forgotten in the bedside table. So here I am, thoroughly enjoying it.

My 2009 post TED Talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation is about his discussion of the ideas covered in the book. It one of my favorite all time TED Talks. RSA produced an animated video for a similar talk on the same topic.

Rewards improve performance for mechanical tasks. They malfunction when the tasks require rudimentary thinking. These extrinsic motivators are what Pink calls Motivation 2.0. We need to look at Motivation 3.0 where intrinsic motivators drive performance. They are:

    • Autonomy – urge to direct our own lives
    • Mastery – urge to get better and better at something that matters
    • Purpose – urge to do participate in something larger than themselves

Recently I lamented about how I may have profited from Specialist Culture, employees who are technically gifted or great in their fields don’t have to consider how their behaviour or work affects anyone. (Source: The Toxic Workplace) The benefit of being considered an expert in a rock star team? We suffer less compliance and receive more autonomy so we can self direct ourselves to mastery and take on the projects that give us purpose. I realized for most of my career I have had great amounts of autonomy. Supervisors pointed me at the problem, provided a vision of the end result, and let me go at it. That is a tremendous trust even for a 19 year old that I guess I earned. (Surprising.) Also, these supervisors provided me valuable instant feedback on my work.

Perhaps the history of being treated this way is why I treated the student assistants I supervised this way. Also, losing autonomy at my prior position and the way that frustrated me was a huge factor in my being poached away to my current position. Anyway, this stuff will continue to be a part of my thinking both in how bosses treat me but especially how I work with teams. An interesting question is how to arrive at more areas of the organization to achieve the same?