Tag Archive: 4.5

Jul 20

Review: Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Yes, I know, it’s been forever.  Trust that I’ve been keeping busy, but I’m back now with the new and improved help of the Wunderlist to-do app.  I’m sure I’ll write a full post about that soon, but I’d like to get back into reviewing all the books I read.  Practice makes perfect after all.

Photo credit: blog.discoveryeducation.com

Yesterday, I finished Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.  Previously, I had read To Sell is Human, so I was already familiar with Pink’s easy-to-read, well-researched approached to business books.  Both of these books shaped up to be about 2/3 theory, 1/3 practical advice.  Which I suppose would be great for the average reader who is looking for a book on motivation to, well, motivate them.  I, on the other hand, have a sick obsession with the psychology of decision making, so the more theory, the better as far as I’m concerned.

That said, I’m not opposed to taking a little free advice either.

I will go ahead and give Pink this:  the book is well-written, the arguments are easy to follow, the data is good, and his conclusions make sense.

But.

I didn’t really learn anything from this book that I didn’t already know.  The main idea explored in Drive is that traditional motivation techniques of carrots and sticks do not work for creative workers.  In fact, incentivized work beyond a certain level actually decreases creativity and wide-angle lens thinking.  Instead, most workers beyond a certain level are primarily motivated by intrinsic goals.

Further, he shows how extrinsic motivation (bonuses, rewards, etc.) have short-term benefits that ultimately lead to lower job satisfaction and overall productivity.  This is completely understandable: if you’ve given me a prize for something once, I want a prize every time or I’m not doing that.  I am not a dog that is easy to trick.

As a former AmeriCorps volunteer and soon to be MLIS holder, I understand the necessity of intrinsic motivation (cause the money ain’t ever going to be there).  But what I don’t understand is why this has to be said.

Granted, I have never worked for huge, multinational corporations.  Most of the businesses I have worked and schools I have attended have been small and thus couldn’t afford but to have a little bit of a personal touch.  And if you’re a lifelong reader, intrinsic motivation should come naturally.  After all, once there aren’t any AR trinkets to win, why keep going back to the library/bookstore/Kindle?

Basically, Drive makes the argument that businesses of all types have to trust that their employees aren’t out to pull a paycheck and go home with the minimum done possible.  To get to that level, though, employers have to give up some control and make worth doing.  We motivate ourselves, but that doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Instead, environment plays a key role in what the economic world gets out of each of us.

JMF Rating: 4.5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF