Review of the Book: DRIVE By Daniel Pink

According to the author, when it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. The author claims that in order to be effective with work in the 21st century, we need to upgrade to a new motivational system. He suggests this includes autonomy, mastery and purpose. Our current business operating system (which is how we do things) is built around external rewards and punishments. In other words, to get things done and to motivate employees, is often done through carrots and sticks. This model, built many years ago, assumes most people want to be directly managed. The author contents in today’s economy, we need to leverage what science knows to help build the most effective and creative work environment.


External rewards and punishments (20th century) with carrots and sticks (C&S). According to the author, C&S can extinguish intrinsic motivation. In addition, it can crush creativity and crowd out good behavior. Motivation 2 is a model that assumes work is not inherently enjoyable. The carrots and sticks approach may work well with algorithmic tasks, but routine tasks are bad for heuristic tasks. If this task is not routine, this motivation model can do more damage than good.

The author talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose in Motivation 3. Engagement is a key characteristic. The mastery of a skill begins with flow. What optimal experiences we face are exquisitely matched to our abilities. The flow-optimal experience occurs when the challenges we face are exquisitely matched to our abilities. This motivational structure places emphasis on maximizing purpose and solving problems intrinsically. Intrinsic motivation is conducive to creativity where extrinsic motivation is detrimental to creativity. The author contents that we need a system which is absent of a reward or punishment as primary motivators. According to the Pink, human beings when they are young are curious and self-directed. Therefore, we need a system that nurtures and develops those traits and desires.
Autonomy – The desire to direct our own lives.
Mastery – The urge to get better and better at something that matters.
Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

How to move five steps closer to mastery
1. Remember that deliberate practice has one objective: to improve performance.
2. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
3. Seek constant, critical feedback.
4. Focus ruthlessly on where you need help.
5. Prepare for the process to mentally and physically exhausting.

Type X Fueled by extrinsic desires than intrinsic ones. Concerned less with the inherent satisfaction of an activity and more with the external rewards to which the activity leads.

Type I Less with external rewards an activity brings and more with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself. For professional, personal success and personal fulfillment, move from Type X to Type I. Type I’s behavior centers around the need to direct our own lives, learn and create new things.

Fifteen books recommended by Daniel Pink from Drive to continue the discussion…
1. Finite and Infinite Games By James Carse
2. Talent is Overrated By Geoff Colvin
3. Flow By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
4. Why We Do What We Do By Edward Deci with Richard Flaste
5. Then We Came To The End By Joshua Ferris
6. Good Work By Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon
7. Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell
8. Team of Rivals By Doris Kearns Goodwin
9. The Amateurs By David Halberstam
10. Punished by Rewards By Alfie Kohn
11. Once a Runner By John Parker, Jr.
12. The War of Art By Steven Pressfield
13. Maverick By Ricardo Semler
14. The Fifth Discipline By Peter Senge
15. Mindset By Carol Dweck

30% of all work is algorithmic tasks (AT). The author defines algorithmic as a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion. Algorithmic tasks are more likely to be outsourced as they can be done anywhere. AT may actually impair the performance of a heuristic task, but works well with the carrot and stick system.

70% of all work is heuristic (HT). The author defines heuristic as a common sense rule to increase the probability of solving some problem. Primary objective of HT is to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution. For example, a creative ad campaign (right brain) is primarily a heuristic task.