Book Review: Drive

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Pink, Daniel H. Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates us. Riverhead Books, 2009.

Several years ago, in A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink argued that American professions have been dominated by analytical thinkers, but soon these left-brained MBA number crunchers would be replaced by a different kind of worker, the right-brained designer, storyteller and big picture thinker. These new workers would offer a new skill set to their employers — creativity, empathy, joyfulness and meaning.

In his new book, Drive, Pink picks up the related theme of motivation. He argues that the incentive plans used by most organizations do not work. Even worse, there is scientific evidence that money acts as a de-motivator. Pink advises managers to pay people fairly and adequately to take money off the table, but he shows that the most effective reward is intrinsic — performance of the task itself.

Pink describes successful people as hard working and persistent. They possess an internal desire to control their lives, to learn about their world and to accomplish something that endures. They work hard to grow and develop, and to connect to a larger purpose. These workers have higher self-esteem and better interpersonal relationships than those who are extrinsically motivated. Every organization needs to retain and cultivate these creative, problem-solving, big picture people.

This book presents interesting ideas but the treatment is rather surface. In the final pages is a chapter summary, a cocktail party summary, plus a Twitter summary, “Carrots & sticks are so last century”. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery & purpose.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library РFuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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