"And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die." -- Genesis 33:13
Dan Pink has done his usual fine work in Drive by:
1. Identifying the relevant scientific research
2. Turning the findings into brief, reader-friendly material
3. Simplifying the key points into a few principles to remember
4. Comparing and contrasting those points with what prevailing practices are in larger organizations
If you are already familiar with the literature of creative motivation, you won't find anything new here. If you don't read that literature, Mr. Pink will take you to where you should want to go with a minimum of time and effort on your part.
The key point is that people respond to more than money in getting their work done. And the more you need someone to use all their resources, the more money becomes a hurdle to success rather than an aid . . . by narrowing focus too much.
Here's a personal example that I remember well that shows the same point. As a poverty-stricken undergraduate, I never saw a psychology experiment that I didn't want to participate in . . . as long as it paid. One such experiment involved memorizing some nonsense material over a series of sessions. I could usually do it relatively quickly. One night my girl friend was in a big rush to go out, but I needed to get paid by the experimenters before I could afford to take her out. I decided I would try much harder than usual so I could get done faster and be on my way with the money. Wrong! I thought I was never going to finish that experiment. The harder I tried, the worse I did. The experimenter was obviously astonished by all the trouble I was having. I'm sure I messed up that set of results for some graduate student.
I've also seen this problem occur where company executives have an opportunity to gain undreamed-of wealth. They get so focused on the money that they don't see anything else, and they make a lot of mistakes that they wouldn't if little money were involved.
As well documented as these points are, don't expect Wall Street banks and automotive companies to quickly switch over to encouraging autonomy, mastery, and purpose instead of paying big salaries and bonuses. Carrots and sticks involving money are in place because they pay well for those on the receiving end . . . not because they reward shareholders well.
The key problem with drawing all your lessons about motivation from this book is that the number of applications to work environments that have been well studied scientifically is pretty limited. My research suggests that there are lots of important motivating factors for doing good work that exist in addition to autonomy, mastery, and purpose. For instance, most workers tell you that they don't have the resources they need to do a good job . . . and that discourages them. In addition, most workers don't feel respected by those who are in charge of their work . . . which also discourages them. If you want a longer list, read Dilbert or visit someone in a cubicle. And those are just removing negative influences. There are other positive influences as well, including being faithful to God, expressing love to others, and being loyal to friends.
You also have to address whether the most important management task is to make everyone more motivated so that they produce more . . . or to make a few people effective in creating astonishingly large improvements that ordinary people can learn to implement. My work suggests the latter route is the way to go. Most people would choose the former route.
However deep you plan to delve into this subject, Drive is a good starting point if you are new to thinking about how to encourage people to accomplish more.
I have read and reviewed all of Dan Pink's previous books and think that this is his most important, his most valuable thus far. As the subtitle correctly indicates, he focuses on "the surprising truth about what motivates us." The revelations he shares were generated by a five-year research project that involved thousands of test groups and individuals as well as dozens of research associates whom Pink duly acknowledges with obvious admiration as well as appreciation. "This is a book about motivation. I will show that much of what we believe about the subject just isn't so - and that the insights that [Harry] Harlow and [Edward] Deci began uncovering a few decades ago come much closer to the truth." Pink goes on assert that most organizations (regardless of nature and extent) formulate strategies for motivation based on faulty assumptions and then, however well-executed these strategies may be, fail to achieve their objectives. These organizations continue to pursue practices (e.g., shirt-term incentive plans and pay-for-performance schemes) "in the face of mounting evidence that such measures usually don't work and often do harm. Worse, these practices have infiltrated our schools, where we ply our future workforce with iPods, cash, and pizza coupons to `incentivize' them to learn. Something has gone wrong." Indeed, as Pink convincingly explains, something has been wrong, very wrong, for many years.
Drawing upon an abundance of research by several behavioral scientists, including Harlow and Deci, provides a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional explanation of "what motivates us," what really motivates us. He carefully organizes his material within three Parts. In the first, he examines the flaws in reward-and-punishment system and proposes "a new way to think about motivation"; in the second, he examines the three elements of Type I behavior i.e. autonomy, mastery, and purpose) and illustrates how individuals as well as organizations "are using them to improve performance and deepen satisfaction"; and in the third Part, he provides what he characterizes as a "Type I Toolkit, a wealth of resources, to help each reader create an environment (in collaboration with others) in which Type I behavior can flourish.
Here are a few of Pink's insights that caught my eye. First, a few distinctions about what Type I behavior is...and isn't: It is made, not born; almost always outperforms Type Xs in the long run; does not disdain money or recognition; is a renewable resource; promotes greater physical and mental well-being; is self-directed; devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters; and connects the quest for excellence with a larger picture. (Pages 79-81) In stunning contrast, Type X "is fueled more by extrinsic desires than intrinsic ones. It concerns itself less with the inherent satisfaction of an activity and more with the external rewards to which that activity leads." Pink recommends what he calls the Motivation 3.0 operating system - "the upgrade that's needed to meet the new realities of how we organize, think about, and do what we do" - depends on the aforementioned Type I behavior.
I also appreciate Pink's provision of real-world examples to create a context, a frame-of-reference, within which to anchor as well as illustrate his core concepts. In Chapters 4-6, he rigorously examines the three elements of Type I behavior (i.e. autonomy, mastery, and purpose) and explains how and why they are separate but interdependent. All three are essential to help achieve what he characterizes as "a renaissance of self-direction." Motivation 3.0 presumes that workers want to be accountable - "and that making sure they have control over their task, their time, their technique, and their team is a pathway to destination." With regard to mastery, Type I "has an incremental theory of intelligence, prizes learning gals over performance goals, and welcomes effort as a way to improve at something that matters. Begin with [a Type X] mindset, and mastery is impossible. Begin with the other [i.e. Type I], and it can be inevitable."
With all due respect to Dan Pink's previously published books, I think this one is his most important, his most valuable, because the information and wisdom he provides will have much wider and deeper impact.
on October 31, 2010
I love it when friends, authors, thinkers, comedians, and scientists are able to cut to the heart of something we've all been thinking, but were never able to articulate: in Drive, Daniel H. Pink goes after our real or imagined relationship with money, and to what extent it actually motivates us to not just work harder, but be more creative and effective in our jobs.
Not only are his findings fascinating, they're so contradictory of traditional Economic models for human behaviour that he proposes a totally new paradigm. He calls it Drive 3.0. (Drive 1.0 being Biological, and 2.0 being Economic)
Since most of us (in the developed world) have the first two taken care of by about age 25, most offices and workplaces are filled with bored empty zombies, clacking keys and shoving paper around until they retire. Their problem is they bought into the Drive 2.0 model ('it's all about money, make more and you'll be happier')
Well, of course money makes some people happy right? Sure! When those people are running short of it!
Anyone in the US who makes less than about 30 thousand dollars annually will actually be ecstatic to get more money. They can be incentivized to work more and work harder on any job, you name it. But once they hit the 30 thousand mark, they start to slack off. Money is about survival, and 30 grand is enough for most people to survive. Once they start making more than that, it's time to stop paying, and start inspiring. And here's where the fun, cool, creative jobs are. Pink refers to this new motivator as Intrinsic motivation.
Wow. Sounds amazing right? Wouldn't that be incredible if you could just hit the phones, bursting with energy for 8 hours straight, calling up prospects, pulling in commissions, and all the while, just feeling happy and delighted at work?
You're right. It would be. So how does that happen?
Traditional economic models we studied in school indicated that if people wanted something bad enough, that demand would push up prices. At the Undergraduate level we always assume that more money is good, and can never be bad. Therefore, if you give someone more money, they will always be happier and have more utility.
That's where the cracks in Drive 2.0 start to show. The purely Economic man is just utilitarian. He'll work doing any job (shudder) just to make money. He then takes his utility and doles it out to his family members in the form of consumption and 'time off'.
The message is simple: work is painful and bad, money is what you get for doing the bad stuff, and with money you buy things and go on trips and have fun. I repeat: work is painful and bad. If we cling to this ancient model any longer it will doom us to boring listless work lives. And we have no excuses, because there are examples of very cool fun exciting workplaces all over the world.
If you can't imagine how such a workplace would function, I want you to think about Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player, arguably the greatest competitor there ever was. He wanted to play against the best in the world.
If MJ just wanted to win, he could have played against college kids all day, not play against the best players in the world. So we know ego wasn't his main drive.
If he just wanted money, he never would have had the motivation to even make the High School team' he would have just been a Doctor, Lawyer or Stock Broker'So we know money wasn't his main drive.
If he just wanted Championship rings he would have called up his friends and taken his Dream Team buddies on the easier, dullest Dynasty of all time'.So we know Rings weren't his main drive. And besides, when he put that jersey on, MJ had no friends. Not even on his own team.
And yet he went in to work, and performed brilliantly. He had fire, passion, motivation, and will. And when he needed more of it, he created it out of thin air. Would anyone say he was doing it for ego, cash or rings? History shows that he didn't do that. In fact he recently commented that he never would have joined up with Charles Barkley or Magic Johnson'he wanted to beat them. ([...])
The point is, when you watched Michael when he was in the zone, he was in a totally different head space. It's when you're faced with a challenge, but you have the power and resources to overcome it, and you relish in that challenge, as well as the triumph. That zone is known as Flow. And Flow, my friend, is what's missing from your job'not cash, an executive washroom, or Casual Fridays.
Ok, Cash. It's a sensitive subject, so let's address the elephant in the room.
Bottom line, most people are totally baffled when it comes to money. When they have too little of it, they complain, and when they start making more of it, they don't know where to put it or how to invest; if anything they get too comfortable and start flashing the credit cards, which ultimately lead to financial ruin. Most people never reach a 'good place' when it comes to their finances. It just doesn't seem there's ever enough of it! And yet we were always taught in class that the more we get, the happier (er, full of utility) we get!
Pink explains that our desire for money is pretty much relegated to basic expenses like buying food and paying bills, but nothing like Flow. Not only is Money incapable of 'buying' flow, our compensation packages often stand in our way of flow. Wait, what? Ironically the more companies pay us to do our jobs, the less we enjoy them. Harkening back to the simplistic models of Econ 101, we naturally associate any activity that we're being paid to do, as work, and suddenly, not as fun as if we were doing the exact same thing for free (reverse rationalization, if you will). Being paid or incentivized actually throws off a lot of the creativity and joy of work.
Can you imagine how hard it would be to write a Hollywood movie, knowing that you might make 20 million dollars if it's a hit, and you'll probably never work again if it's a dud? Ouch. Better stick to a bland romantic comedy with the current it girl, and quirky goofy model actor.
So we combine these two huge ideas thusly: when you or your employees graduate from school, they will do anything for money; they need it to pay off loans, to get a new car, maybe put money down on a new house or a honeymoon, but as their salaries rise, don't expect that to fuel them forever. As your employees move into management roles, you have to get the most out of them by inspiring them, and giving them the freedom to choose how they want to do their jobs (scary, I know). As long as their job is challenging (but not impossible) they'll always be jacked up to come into work, and if necessary, stay overtime working on the latest big project. Nurture their creative sides, and everyone in the company will benefit.
To sum up, this book is the difference between a great job, and a terrible one. It declares the Drive 2.0 model dead, and consider yourself lucky that you got the message early. Can you use these ideas at your current Workplace?Then start today. If not, start looking for a place you where can. It's worth it.
Just do it.
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Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose. According to Daniel Pink, these factors make up "Motivation 3.0," the force that keeps us focused on tasks and fulfilled by their completion. "Drive" asserts that humans perform according to a hierarchy of "operating systems," from meeting basic needs (eating & reproducing) to seeking reward and avoiding punishment to achieving personal satisfaction. He also differentiates between Type I workers, who are intrinsically motivated, and Type X workers, who are extrinsically motivated. These two sets of people need customized treatment from their superiors to be optimally productive.
In Malcolm Gladwell-esque style, Daniel Pink has taken an important but poorly understood topic, outlined interesting research performed by others on the topic, and presented conclusions in an engaging summary. "Drive" represents a solid introduction to a universal subject and is certainly supported by scholarship despite its oversimplifications. Pink's theories neglect to deal adequately with either the least popular jobs or the workers who don't feel enticed by autonomy, mastery and purpose but, despite limited application to the real world, Pink's conclusions provide valuable insight for anyone trying to create a more productive working environment.