Book Summary of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Book by Daniel H. Pink
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“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 Harlow and Deci began uncovering a few decades ago come much closer to the truth”Dan Pink
Drive is the fourth nonfiction book by Daniel Pink. It argues that human motivation is mostly intrinsic. The aspects of this motivation can be divided into autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In this book, Danel Pink argues against traditional motivation models driven by rewards and fear of punishment, dominated by extrinsic factors like money. Drive explains that rewards and punishments – Motivation 2.0 – are part of an old paradigm that doesn’t work well in today’s work environments.
About Daniel Pink
Daniel Pink was the host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a television series about human behavior on National Geographic. He has appeared frequently on NPR, PBS, ABC, CNN, and other TV and radio networks in the US and abroad.
Daniel has been a contributing editor at Fast Company and Wired and a business columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. His articles and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. He was also a Japan Society Media Fellow in Tokyo, where he studied the country’s massive comic industry.
In 2019, London-based Thinkers 50 named Daniel Pink the 6th most influential management thinker in the world.
The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2.0
Motivation needs an upgrade. Societies have operating systems, just like computers. Many organizations, cultures, and even families operate on an old, out-of-date motivation operating system built around external rewards and punishments.
Motivation 1.0: Survival
“Motivation 1.0 presumed that humans were biological creatures, struggling to obtain our basic needs for food, security, and sex – Daniel Pink
Motivation 1.0 worked well until it didn’t. As humans formed more complex societies, they started bumping up against strangers and cooperating to get things done. This was an operating system based purely on a biological drive, which was fundamentally inadequate motivation. Sometimes we needed ways to restrain this drive to avoid breaking the law. Hence, we slowly moved towards Motivation 2.0.
Motivation 2.0: Rewards and Punishments
At its core, Motivation 2.0 argues humans are more than the sum of our biological urges. However, it also suggests we aren’t much different from horses. The way to get us moving in the correct direction is by dangling a crunchier carrot or wielding a sharper stick. However, what this operating system lacked in enlightenment, it made up for in effectiveness. It worked extremely well until it didn’t.
Research shows that Motivation 2.0 is incompatible with how we organize and how we do what we do. Daniel Pink outlines several reasons for why the carrot and stick approach of motivation 2.0 no longer works.
A Reduction in Algorithmic Work
In the 1900s, Frederick Taylor argued workers were regarded as part of a complicated machine. This one feature of his essentials of scientific management. Hence, desired behaviors could be controlled through effective rewards and punishments. This mindset still dominates the way that many companies manage their employees. However, workers are generally less likely to engage with mechanical and repetitive behaviors. Dan Pink describes these types of jobs as algorithmic work. Essentially, external motivators are still effective for the dwindling number of jobs classified as algorithmic work.
Increase in Complexity
Work has become increasingly complex since Taylor created his theory of scientific management. Plus, work will continue to evolve and become more complicated with the advancement of technology. Today, we are less directed by others in our work. Subsequently, management and motivation techniques also have to evolve.
The Reality of What Drives Behavior
Dan Pink explains our behavior is not generally driven by external motivators. People make decisions more on internal factors than external factors. For example, we are often most motivated by activities that offer no financial gain. We put hours of work into mastering an instrument. Additionally, many people choose low-paid jobs that make a genuine difference, such as nursing or teaching.
Motivation 2.0 presumed humans also responded to rewards and punishments. That worked fine for routine tasks but is incompatible with how we organize what we do. We needed an upgrade. Motivation 3.0 presumes humans also have a drive to learn, create, and better the world.
The Seven Deadly Flaws of Extrinsic Motivators
External Motivators Can Extinguish Intrinsic Motivation
Daniel Pink outlines that external motivators can provide base-level benefits. However, when you look deeper, they can also achieve the opposite of your intended aims. Specifically, external rewards can become the primary reason for engaging with a task. In doing so, the intrinsic enjoyment of a task is lost. Research suggests that groups offered an external reward are more prone to mistakes.
External Motivators Can Diminish Long-Term Performance
External motivators can increase the likelihood of mistakes. However, they can also cap long-term growth. For example, the London School of Economics analyzed 51 studies of corporate pay-for-performance plans. They found these studies suggested financial incentives resulted in a negative impact on performance. The primary reason for this reduction in long-term performance is that performance is tied to an external reward. If this incentive can no longer be offered, then a reduction in commitment is observed.
External Motivators Can Crush Creativity
Financial incentives are generally associated with fixed and specific goals. Hence, employees are being rewarded for sticking to specific actions rather than thinking outside the box. Subsequently, broader perspectives are avoided as they are not associated with rewards. The consequence of this is a reduction in creativity within teams.
External Motivators Can Crowd-Out Good Behavior
Several psychologists and sociologists have found that paying somebody to do a good deed reduces these good acts’ frequency. For example, fewer people donate blood when money is offered.
External Motivators Can Encourage Cheating and Unethical Behavior
Offering external rewards can encourage individuals to cut corners to obtain the required outcome. This can have extreme impacts, such as ENRON’s fraud scandal. Financial incentives can turn any company from socially responsible to one that is willing to do anything to earn money.
External Motivators Can Become Addictive
Research suggests that external motivators, like financial incentives, are addictive. They act in the same way as other addictions, like drugs. The more frequently you are given external rewards, the more you expect and crave them. Subsequently, as with drug addicts, the same external rewards lose their motivational impact. You start to expect larger external rewards to remain motivated. Similarly, like withdrawal symptoms, removing external rewards can lead to a slump in motivation.
External Motivators Can Encourage Short-Term Thinking
Researchers have found that companies that spend the most time guiding quarterly earnings deliver significantly lower long-term growth rates. The external outcomes are encouraging a short-term focus at the detriment of long-term success.
Type I and Type X
Type I: Intrinsically Motivated
Intrinsic behavior, or Type I, is less concerned with external rewards and is more satisfied with the activity itself. Type Is are made rather than naturally occurring. Hence, you still have hope, even if you have been extrinsically motivated your whole life. For personal and professional success, it’s crucial to move towards intrinsic motivations.
Type X: Extrinsically Motivated
Extrinsic behaviors (Type X) leave you at high-risk of becoming unfulfilled. Type Xs are reaching for the external, such as material validation and satisfaction. Subsequently, they have a high chance of being left disappointed.
- Type I behavior is made, not born.
- Type Is almost always outperform Type Xs in the long run.
- Type I behavior does not disdain money or recognition.
- Type I behavior is a renewable resource.
- Type I behavior promotes greater physical and mental well-being.
By default, we all want to be free. We want to be the architects of our own lives and self-direct our destinies. Unfortunately, in many organizations, they have outdated notions of management that lead people from Type I to Type X.
The Three Elements
1: Autonomy: The desire for you to direct your own life.
2: Mastery: The pull to make progress and get better at something that matters.
3: Purpose: The yearning to do what you want to do in the service of something greater than yourself.
The author provides an example of Atlassian, an Australian software company. Atlassian allowed their programmers to have an entire day of freedom (they were paid to work on whatever code they wanted). During this time, they imagined several new product ideas and dozens of creative solutions to existing problems.
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes told author Daniel Pink, “If you don’t pay enough, you can lose people. But beyond that, money is not a motivator.” What motivates people beyond equal pay is work autonomy.
You can spark the intrinsic drive of autonomy by giving yourself and others flexibility within a rigid framework. Specifically, offer a choice of tasks, techniques and team members, and free time to work on side projects. Author Daniel Pink calls these the four Ts of autonomy: The freedom to pick the task, the time, the technique, and the team.
“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” – Daniel Pink
People need autonomy over what they do, when they do it, and how they do it. Many organizations have found inventive and creative ways to incorporate autonomy, and it’s helping them to outperform their competitors.
One quick example is Google. Google allows employees to have autonomy. One-fifth of their working hours are for working on any project that they want. This autonomy has created excellent tools like Gmail, Google News, and so much more.
Encouraging autonomy is essential, but it does not mean you should discourage accountability. Control leads to compliance, and autonomy leads to engagement. Motivation 2.0 requires compliance. Whereas, motivation 3.0 demands engagement. Engagement is what produces mastery.
Green Cargo and Flow
The Swedish shipping company, Green Cargo, wanted to overhaul their performance review process. They implemented a key finding by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Specifically, workers should be given tasks slightly above their current skill level. This keeps them in a state between boredom and anxiety where they are more engaged, more motivated to work, and more creative.
Green Cargo implemented Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s findings by changing the way they conducted performance reviews. During each performance review, managers now needed to determine if their employees were overwhelmed or underwhelmed with their current work assignments. The managers needed to work with each employee to craft Goldilocks work assignments. Essentially, creating work assignments that weren’t too hard or easy, but just right above their current skill level.
The Effect of Flow on Green Cargo
What effect did Green Cargo’s new performance review system have? Employees were more engaged and reported feelings of mastery over their work. After two years of these new performance reviews, Green Cargo became profitable for the first time in 125 years.
“One source of frustration in the workplace is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom. But when the match is just right, the results can be glorious.” – Daniel Pink
Progress in your work turns out to be the most motivating asset of many jobs. So, where do you begin with mastery? The answer is flow.
Optimal performance and enjoyment can be achieved through challenges that are exquisitely matched to our abilities. Instead of just having tedious day-to-day tasks, we all need Goldilocks tasks. Challenge yourself, but get it done. Tasks that are too easy prohibit our growth. In comparison, the overly challenging task adds too much complexity to the problem and overwhelms us, which leads to analysis paralysis.
Mastery has three rules:
1- Mastery is a mindset because it requires you to recognize your ability. You are not perfect, but infinitely improvable.
2- Mastery is a pain because it requires effort, deliberate practice, failure, trial and error, and grit.
3- Mastery is an asymptote because the lifetime result is impossible to realize fully. This can make it frustrating, but embracing it is crucial for learning.
“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
– Daniel Pink
Purpose is how organizations like Doctors Without Borders can recruit highly skilled doctors to volunteer to live in harsh conditions for little money. These doctors are motivated to work due to the sense of purpose they get from helping individuals in poor and remote villages.
In motivation 3.0, purpose maximization takes its place alongside profit maximization as an aspiration and a guiding principle. Humans are naturally inclined to seek purpose, be part of a greater cause, and contribute to the world. Traditional business has not prioritized purpose and autonomy, which leads to dissatisfied workers. It’s much more valuable for an individual and organization to adopt a new motivation method: Purpose Motivation.
Purpose Motivation expresses itself in three ways:
1- In words that emphasize beyond self-interest.
2- In goals that use profit to reach purpose.
3- In policies that allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms.
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Select Quotes of Drive
― Daniel H. Pink #drive
Click to Tweet
“Motivation 1.0 presumed that humans were biological creatures, struggling to obtain our basic needs for food, security and sex.Dan Pink
Motivation 2.0 presumed that humans also responded to rewards and punishments. That worked fine for routine tasks but incompatible with how we organize what we do, how we think about what we do, and how. we do what we do. We need an upgrade.
Motivation 3.0, the upgrade we now need, presumes that humans also have a drive to learn, to create, and to better the world.”Dan Pink
― Daniel H. Pink #Drive
Click to Tweet
― Daniel H. Pink #drive
Click to Tweet
― Daniel H. Pink #Drive
Click to Tweet
“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” – Daniel Pink– Daniel Pink
“One source of frustration in the workplace is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom. But when the match is just right, the results can be glorious.”– Daniel Pink
“You have to repeat your mission and your purpose…over and over and over. And sometimes you’re like, doesn’t everyone already know this? It doesn’t matter. Starting out the meetings with This is Facebook’s mission, This is Instagram’s mission, and This is why Whatsapp exists (is critical).”– Sheryl Sandberg
“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”– Daniel Pink
― Daniel H. Pink #drive
Click to Tweet