Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DRIVE, by Daniel H. Pink

In September 2011, HR leader Charlie Judy wrote an enthusiastic post about “Drive” on his HR Fishbowl blog.

Here is how Charlie's article started:

As an HR Professional you play an integral role in helping your organization motivate its employees. If you believe this, then you really should read Daniel Pink’s bestselling “Drive”. In 220 pages, it will take everything the archaic world of business has taught you about “what motivates us,” turn it on its head, and slap you across the face with an enlightenment toward the binding constraints your organization is likely imposing on its people. »

No More Carrots and Sticks!

In “Drive”, Daniel Pink unveils a major gap between what science knows and what business does. Social scientists have shown that traditional motivation techniques, like cash rewards, often don't work. Worse: they sometimes do more harm than good!

What is called “extrinsic motivation” has a positive effect on performance only when the task at hand is very simple, almost mechanical. But when it comes to the complex tasks that are typical of the 21st century knowledge workers, carrots and sticks are just a waste of time and money.

So, instead of elaborating traditional bonus schemes, we HR people (as well as all organizational leaders) should focus on fostering “intrinsic motivation” in our organizations. To do that, there are three levers we can activate:

  1. Autonomy : To feel motivated, people should have control on what they do, when they do it, with whom, and how. 

  2. Mastery : Seeing that, through relentless efforts, you are getting better and better at something that matters is a very motivating experience. It starts with flow, this good feeling that we have when we perform at the top level of our skills.
  1. Purpose: We all do a better job when we know that it serves the greater good, not just profit or personal income.

A Serious, Useful... and Funny Book!

Drive is a serious book: it is based on a review of the scientific literature.

It is also useful, filled with examples from big corporations, technology companies or hospitals. It offers a toolkit that includes practical advice about:
  • Awakening your (personal) motivation
  • Fostering intrinsic motivation in your organization
  • Compensation : how to pay people in a way that does not get in the way of motivation (specially relevant for HR professionals)
  • Educating your kids
  • Getting (and staying) motivated to exercise
As part of his toolkit, Pink presents a reading list (I really love that guy!) and the names of six business gurus that offer guidance consistent with Pink's views.

Last but not least, reading “Drive” is really funny. As you will notice in the videos below, Daniel Pink has a great sense of humor!


In this speech at TED's 2009 Global Conference in Oxford, Daniel Pink offered a passionate and convincing summary of his book: 

And in this one, his summary is illustrated by nice drawings:

Book Data

More about Drive and Daniel H. Pink

  • At www.danpink.com/drive-survey you can fill out a survey to assess your own levels of motivation.
  • You can also subscribe to a newsletter and receive a free PDF called "The Flip Manifesto: 16 Counterintuitive Ideas About Motivation, Innovation, and Leadership"
  • And you can follow @danielpink on Twitter.


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