Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

In his enlightening book, Drive, Daniel Pink insists that most organizations rely on an outdated approach based on “rewards and punishments” to manage employee productivity.  He explains why this 20th century strategy, which he labels “motivation 2.0,” no longer works for a 21st century workforce, which requires a new, fresh approach that he calls, appropriately, “motivation 3.0.”

Motivation 2.0 is based on the notion that people respond productively to extrinsic motivators, such bonuses and promotions.  While this worked well for routine and automated tasks most prevalent in the 20th century workplace, it does not work well for heuristic work, the non-routine tasks of the 21st century involving artistic, creative problem-solving skills that depend heavily on intrinsic motivation. The reality is that 70% of job growth comes from heuristic work. (Pink, 2009, p. 30)  The consequences of continuing to rely on extrinsic motivators could be potentially devastating to the future of American business.

Pink references the most recent scientific research on human motivation conducted over the last half century. He finds that this body of motivation literature reveals a huge disconnect between how people are motivated and how businesses are currently operating to motivate workers.

The good news, he explains, is that this new approach to intrinsic motivation can be learned.  Pink provides readers with a comprehensive toolkit that includes a list of books, names of business thought leaders, a discussion guide, a free online assessment, and an invitation to subscribe to Drive Times, a free quarterly e-mail newsletter, to stay updated on the topic.

The research reveals that we all need to update our mindset to a new third drive, “motivation 3.0,” which shows that human beings also have a drive to learn, create, and better the world beyond themselves.

The three elements of autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the essential requirements needed to foster what he calls “Type I,” or intrinsic behavior, in individuals.  Type 1, intrinsically motivated individuals have a greater sense of fulfillment, happiness, as well as physical and mental well-being.  He defines these three essential elements as follows:

  1. Autonomy: “Our innate need to direct our own lives” (p. 211);
  2. Mastery: The urge to make progress and “become better at something that matters” (p. 207); and
  3. Purpose: The desire to do “something that matters, do it well, and in the service of a cause larger than ourselves” (p. 146).

Pink makes this reading interesting by sprinkling the book with real case studies and examples of organizations going in the wrong direction, as well as exemplary organizations, such as Google and Zappos, that have already been implementing motivation 3.0 and are way ahead of the game.

In a society so focused on extrinsic, monetary and material rewards, Pink provides a refreshing new challenge to move forward in one’s personal and professional life. Pink’s lessons can also be applied to a career development context to help professionals gain insight as to what types of work and organizational environments would yield the highest levels of productivity, growth and overall satisfaction.

Whether you are a parent, an educator, a manager or an organizational leader wanting to inspire others around you, you have real opportunities to implement the recommendations and knowledge shared by Pink.  Try putting “motivation 3.0” into practice to inspire and foster creativity around you and to contribute to a new and improved 21st century workforce and society.

By Career Services Advisor Nicolle Skalski

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