Book: Drive

Drive: Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Dan Pink

Summary: In knowledge worker industries, extrinsic motivations such as monetary rewards can reduce what people can accomplish.  Instead, we need to consider three simple things that truly motivate people: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Intended Audience: Those who lead others; anyone who want to get more out of their careers


Why You Should Read It: Introducing monetary rewards and penalties in situations that involve creative thinking will actually cause performance to decrease.  The true motivating factors for individuals in creative work are:

  • autonomy: I want to have control over how I do my work and the ability to choose when to do it
  • mastery: I want to have to opportunity to learn, explore, and get better and better at what I do
  • purpose: I want to know that what I am doing is helping others and make the world a better place, not just driving the bottom line for a corporation

The book provides numerous examples from research experiments and workplaces that demonstrate where carrots and sticks impair performance and where addressing intrinsic motivators creates significant growth situations for all involved.  There is an excellent RSAnimate video that summarizes these concepts.

My Takeaways

  • Money is the root of much evil. People want to be paid fairly and by taking the issue of compensation off the table, you are free to concentrate on growing the real motivators.
  • Treat people in your organization as if they are volunteering and can choose to leave at any moment. Understand why people choose to spend time on things like open source projects after spending a full day at the office.
  • Performance reviews are very likely more damaging than helpful.  Consider replacing them with open conversations and personal retrospectives.  Definitely do not tie this to decisions about compensation.

Recommended?: With Due Haste

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