Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Image of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Release Date: 
April 4, 2011
Riverhead Books
Reviewed by: 

Did you know that pay for performance schemes do not work and can actually be harmful to human motivation? Or that extrinsic motivation is detrimental to creativity?

At a time when business cries out for innovation, and new studies show as many as six in ten workers looking to exit despite the weak economy, the newest title from Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, delivers new information from the world of science not readily available to the 21st century business world.

Drawing on over 40 years of research by leading psychologists in the often-neglected area of human motivation, Pink, an innovative and forwarding-thinking author, intelligently and conversationally discusses the subject, first with a thorough synthesis of key scientific studies. His claims in the early chapters—that traditional “if-then” rewards serve to extinguish intrinsic motivation, diminish performance, and crush creativity—are attention-getting and beg for further explanation.

From this foundation, Pink challenges assumptions many have about what motivates us as human beings. He champions within the workplace, the classroom, and in individual lives, the importance of autonomy and freedom, mastery and engagement, purpose, and a cause larger than the individual as a means of increasing productivity.

As if the science were not enough, Pink deftly takes it a step further, offering a variety of real-world examples from innovative companies where productivity rose and employee and management stress declined with the transformation from using extrinsic motivators to capturing the internal motivation of its teams.

Pink illustrates how such leading businesses as Atlassian, JetBlue, Meddius, Google, and Mozilla impacted their productivity and bottom line results with practices based on this science. One of the most innovative examples was a once-a-quarter event in which employees could work on any project they chose, however they chose, with whomever they liked.

The last chapter is the icing on the cake. It contains a toolkit for implementing what Pink calls Type I motivation techniques for use in many different environments. Bonuses include access to a comprehensive, free, online assessment and a free quarterly email newsletter with regular updates on the science and practice of human motivation. The segment entitled “Nine Ideas for Helping Our Kids” transfers the concepts of intrinsic motivation from the boardroom to the classroom.

All in all, a fascinating read from one of the premier lecturers and business thinkers in our time.