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Tim Peter


January 21, 2010

Daniel H. Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Book Review of the Week-ish)

January 21, 2010 | By | No Comments

Daniel Pink’s latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, looks at motivation in the 21st Century and how companies can use “Management 3.0” to engage and enlist their employees in their success.

Pink doubles down on the premise of his earlier work – A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future noting how the type of work right-brained individuals (and their left-brained cousins) increasingly do in a modern economy doesn’t lend itself to traditional, extrinsic, carrot-and-stick motivators like bonuses or fear. Instead, Pink argues convincingly for the need to put more focus on the value of work for its intrinsic motivation. Pink outlines why people look for autonomy, mastery and purpose to derive their ultimate motivations and why the old ways don’t work.

While the book is a little light in support of its thesis, it’s a solid read, well-suited to its audience. Much of the criticism I’ve seen leveled at Pink for this book has to do with its supposed dismissal of more traditional motivators such as bonuses. Pink calls these “if/then” rewards and does acknowledge their value – but only when matched with appropriate types of work. The problem, Pink argues, is that companies and managers too often apply these to all types of work. And, for anyone managing creative staff, it’s a compelling argument.

The book isn’t perfect. As noted above, Pink glosses over some of the science and stretches a few metaphors to their extremes. But, it’s well worth the read all the same. In particular, I was a fan of the toolkit Pink provides at the end of the book. Not only will it help you motivate your staff, it also provides fantastic exercises you can use for yourself and for your kids, too.

I recommend you take a ride with Drive. And check out our review of A Whole New Mind. Pink is definitely laying the framework among 21st Century employees. A decade in, it’s time we get to know them.

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  1. Drive was an easy read, so much so it would be easy to overlook the depth of the subject. Pink makes an excellent argument to challenge our common business approach to “motivating” people by suggesting that “management” is not natural, it is a technology, something that was invented. We aren’t really motivated by the “carrot and stick” approach, at least not always in a positive sense. So what if you could make “work” into something more akin to “play”? Pink suggests there is a way, albeit not necessarily an easy way.

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