Daniel Pink
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Drive’s premise is that we’re running our society, business and lives disregarding what science knows about motivation.

This book is a must read for business leaders and managers. It is time to loose away from the old habits and understand the complex puzzle of motivation. Why are we still running business like Taylor prescribed in the early 1900’s? Why do we create bonus structures and not just paying people an adequate salary? Why do we kill creativity by setting up goals and determining how people should do their tasks in creative jobs?

This book shows the discoveries from science on human behavior over the last 60 years that forms the foundation of Pink’s approach to motivation - which he calls Motivation 3.0 - and that consists of three elements: Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters); and Purpose (the yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves).

The approach is rooted on his Type I and Type X behavioral patterns. Type X behavior is fueled by extrinsic desires and concerns less with the inherent satisfaction of an activity. The Type I is quite the opposite. Pink states that we’re both born and made Type I individuals but we’re turned into Type X by the experiences at home, in school and at work. However, with practice and attitude, we can become Type I individuals.

“The Type I behavior is self-directed. It is devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And it connects that quest for excellence to a larger purpose.”

Besides the scientific discoveries, Pink also shows the strategies of future-facing business and organizations to create the purposeful environment for “autonomous people working toward mastery” which “perform at very high levels”. Examples come from open source projects (Apache, Linux, Wikipedia) and diverse industries like software (Atlassian, Google, Redgate), telecom (Ericsson), logistics (Green Cargo) and manufacturing (3M, Toyota). They are good references to ground a transformational initiative in your organization.

It is also interesting how Pink’s approach is pervassive in the Agile software development model and in Lean/Kanban software development methodologies. The Agile Manifesto is discussed in the book as one of the most robust expression of Motivation 3.0, which have among its core principles a call for autonomy and mastery. Lean calls to base management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals. Kanban enables a kaizen culture (continuous improvement).

Building organizations to stand the test of time in the 21st century will require a full upgrade of our management practices. As Pink points out, “Some skeptics insist that innovation is expensive. In the long run, innovation is cheap. Mediocrity is expensive—and autonomy can be the antidote.” and “Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.”

Roll up your sleeves and let’s “craft a new operating system to help ourselves, our companies, and our world work a little better”!

Some quotes

Wikipedia represents the most powerful new business model of the twenty-first century: open source.

Type I’s don’t turn down raises or refuse to cash paychecks. But one reason fair and adequate pay is so essential is that it takes people’s focus off money, which allows them to concentrate on the work itself. By contrast, for many Type X’s, money is the table. It’s why they do what they do. Recognition is similar. Type I’s like being recognized for their accomplishments—because recognition is a form of feedback. But for them, unlike for Type X’s, recognition is not a goal in itself.

Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.

Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.

Or take management’s embrace of “flex time.” Ressler and Thompson call it a “con game,” and they’re right. Flexibility simply widens the fences and occasionally opens the gates. It, too, is little more than control in sheep’s clothing. The words themselves reflect presumptions that run against both the texture of the times and the nature of the human condition. In short, management isn’t the solution; it’s the problem.

And what a few future-facing businesses are discovering is that one of these essential features is autonomy—in particular, autonomy over four aspects of work: what people do, when they do it, how they do it, and whom they do it with. As Atlassian’s experience shows, Type I behavior emerges when people have autonomy over the four T’s: their task, their time, their technique, and their team.

The first two legs of the Type I tripod, autonomy and mastery, are essential. But for proper balance we need a third leg—purpose, which provides a context for its two mates. Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

Solving complex problems requires an inquiring mind and the willingness to experiment one’s way to a fresh solution. Where Motivation 2.0 sought compliance, Motivation 3.0 seeks engagement. Only engagement can produce mastery. And the pursuit of mastery, an important but often dormant part of our third drive, has become essential in making one’s way in today’s economy.

For example, researchers at Cornell University studied 320 small businesses, half of which granted workers autonomy, the other half relying on top-down direction. The businesses that offered autonomy grew at four times the rate of the control-oriented firms and had one-third the turnover.

Begin with a diverse team. As Harvard’s Teresa Amabile advises, “Set up work groups so that people will stimulate each other and learn from each other, so that they’re not homogeneous in terms of their backgrounds and training. You want people who can really cross-fertilize each other’s ideas.”

The most important aspect of any compensation package is fairness. And here, fairness comes in two varieties—internal and external. Internal fairness means paying people commensurate with their colleagues. External fairness means paying people in line with others doing similar work in similar organizations.