Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Posted September 27, 2010 in Resilience, What We're Reading

DriveDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Reviewed by: Glain Roberts-McCabe

The Premise: In Dan Pink’s latest look at workplace shifts, he digs into the research on motivation. In Drive, Pink busts apart some traditional thinking on the benefits of “pay for performance” incentives that have become the norm in the modern workplace. Through case by case examples, Pink begins to debunk the myth that “carrot and stick” (aka incentives and consequences) motivational methods are the best way to get more of the behaviour you want to see. Sure, they work well if you’re incenting people to do simple, rudimentary tasks. But, the method falls apart when you need people to be innovative, creative and conceptual. In those cases, larger bonuses will, in fact, yield poorer (that’s right poorer) results. The key with money, is to pay people enough that you take the issue off the table. After that’s done, Pink identifies three key things that motivate workers in the knowledge economy: autonomy, mastery and purpose. The book provides a toolkit at the back to help you bring some of the ideas to life within your teams and organizations.

The Bottom-line: Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Daniel Pink. The love affair started when I saw him deliver a talk about his first book “Free Agent Nation”. “Finally”, I thought “here’s a guy who gets what I’m feeling about work.” Drive is a pull forward of many of the ideas that Pink surfaced in that first book, which explored why so many individuals were opting out of corporate life and pursuing entrepreneurialism. Drive picks up on the threads of ideas from that book around what organizations needed to do to retain and engage individuals in the knowledge economy. As with all Pink’s books, Drive is a very easy read with case studies, interviews and research facts peppered through the book. The added bonus is the toolkit at the back that allows you to pickup new techniques to apply at work and at home. Filled with great ideas that any leader can implement in their teams (regardless of the corporate culture you may find yourself in), Drive is a thought provoker which will definitely make you rethink outmoded bonus and incentive programs that currently plague our organizations. If reading business books isn’t your thing, check out this excellent 10 minute animation for the major points.

Roundtable Rating: recommended for anyone interested in learning how to get more from their teams (and themselves).

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