“Drive” — 10 Things I learned from Daniel Pink

A few jobs ago in a different company, I split my time between IT Support and IT Sales. It was my first job in IT. I felt lucky to be there.

Drive by Daniel Pink
Drive by Daniel Pink

In the Sales role, my sales manager was constantly looking over my shoulder.

I would compose an email to a client and he would revise it.

I would write up a specific piece of hardware and he would suggest something different.

I liked the job well enough, but felt I was over managed in that sales position. There wasn’t much autonomy in my tasks. While the edits and revisions were possibly worthwhile, these weren’t presented as learning opportunities. It was never explained to my why one suggested computer was a better fit than another, why one sentence was better than another.

In my current job, this is all very different. My company offers us great autonomy in how we work, we’re encouraged towards mastery of our craft, and we have a clear purpose of why we’re doing the work that we do.

Drive by Daniel Pink explores how to tap into this motivation.

10 Things I Learned from Drive by Daniel Pink

  1. Human Motivation comes in three flavors:
    • Motivation 1.0 is our biological drive — eat, sleep, procreate. This instinctual motivation to stay alive is controlled by our limbic system, our reptilian stem and mammalian brain.
    • Motivation 2.0 is the carrot-and-stick approach of motivation. This rose to prominence during the agricultural and industrial ages, when repetitions tasks needed to be pushed for production. Motivation 2.0 is defined as extrinsic motivation. It works from the theory that people are lazy; they must be rewarded or punished to keep them working and behaving. (Motivation 2.1 is this same principle but with more flexibility in your work schedule).
    • Motivation 3.0 says that people want to work hard, so long as their needs are being met. Motivation 3.0 is all about intrinsic motivation, driven by our desire to improve, create, and learn. As more and more repetitious tasks are being automated, creativity will come to define work in the future. Intrinsic motivation is key to happiness and productivity.
  2. Known rewards have a negative effect on people’s behavior. Rewards, and punishments, are part of Motivation 2. “If-Then” Rewards tie effort and outcome to external motivators. These contingent rewards rob us of our intrinsic interest to create and improve.
    Rewards promote short-term thinking and narrowed focus. Knowledge of rewards lead to specific goals, which set our focus and concentration. Unfortunately this overrides our “out-of-the-box” thinking as we look for shortcuts towards these goals. Rewards reduce creativity and minimize our deep processing of what we’re doing.
  3. Coupling behaviors with monetary payments reduces our altruistic reasoning. Once a monetary value is placed on a behavior, such as giving blood or earning good grades, the desired behavior is actually reduced. (Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, has shown us that removing money just a single step can drastically alter behavior).
  4. Not every situation is intrinsically motivating. In those situations, rewards can be a way to get people to work hard toward a goal they may not enjoy. To persuade people to work on unmotivating tasks:
    • Try to make the task playful or a game for people to enjoy
    • Give people a reason. Make sure they understand the because of a situation
    • Acknowledge that the task might not be exciting. Show empathy for their situation
    • Allow ownership and autonomy of the way people complete their tasks
    • Allow people the opportunity to expand their domain into areas where they may not officially work, and which allow them to feel some additional autonomy and value
  5. Rewards for intrinsically motivating tasks should never be framed as “If-Then” rewards. Instead they should come after the task is complete. These rewards should be unexpected. Often they should be non-tangible. Sincere words of thanks or encouragement, with notice of specific actions of effort (not outcome), shows appreciation and supports intrinsic motivation.
  6. Different theories of people and the way they live life (and the theory creators):
    • Type A: Driven, Aggressive, Urgent, Heart disease (Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman)
    • Type B: Steady, Confident, Healthier (Friedman & Rosenman)
    • Theory X: Management required because employees dislike work (Douglas McGregor)
    • Theory Y: Work is natural, and creativity is widespread within the human population (McGregor)
    • Type X: People are driven by external motivation, a.k.a. Motivation 2.0, towards a fixed performance goal. For these people, hard work is a bad thing, pushing them towards easy targets with expected success (Daniel Pink)
    • Type I: People are driven by internal motivation, a.k.a. Motivation 3.0, and are driven towards a learning goal on their way towards Mastery.
      Type I people see hard work as an opportunity for growth of skills and knowledge (Pink)
  7. Self-Determination Theory (SDT): People are happiest when they have control over Autonomy, work towards Mastery, and find their own Purpose. (Edward Deci and Richard Ryan)
  8. Four T’s of Autonomy (SDT):
    • Task: What to do
    • Time: When to do it
    • Technique: How to do it
    • Team: With whom to do it
  9. Mastery (SDT) can never be fully realized. That’s part of its appeal, that there is always more to learn. “Mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes,” writes Pink.
    Flow, the immersive feeling that a task is challenging and rewarding all at once, is key to Motivation 3.0. Finding a state of flow can be difficult — it’s a task that’s not too simple and not too difficult. Clear goals and immediate feedback are helpful to get into the state of flow. Flow should remain uninterrupted if at all possible. (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  10. People find a Purpose (SDT) with their lives and create companies, roles, or policies that give back to humanity. Examples include Tom’s Shoes for its philanthropic activities, and the MBA Oath which challenges business students to work towards more than just financial gain.
Drive by Daniel Pink
“Drive” by Daniel Pink

The end of the book offers suggestions and examples from successful companies and ideas towards Motivation 3.0 parenting.

Drive is an excellent read for anyone looking for the right way to motivate their staff, their children, or themselves.

This book makes a great gift for managers, teachers, parents, or creative people.

Have you read Drive? What were your favorite parts? What did I miss? I would love to read your comments below.