Today’s Book of the Day is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, written by Daniel H. Pink and published in 2009 by Riverhead.

Daniel H. Pink is an American author, and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of seven books. His books have sold millions of copies around the world and have won multiple awards.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

I have chosen this book as the candidate for today’s review as I have read it again in the last few days while designing a project involving gamification.

The core idea described in this book is that we need to challenge the idea that the best way to motivate people, especially employees, is by rewarding them with money or benefits, so using what is called the “carrot-and-stick” approach.

Daniel Pink makes it adamantly clear: this approach is a huge mistake. The author asserts that the secret to achieving high performance and satisfaction both in our personal and professional lives lies in the most basic human need to be able to choose the path we want to walk in our own lives, to learn, do, make new things, and to do improve ourselves and the world around us.

Basing his approach on four decades of scientific research on the psychology of motivation, Pink brilliantly shows how the common practices used in the business environment are absolutely the opposite of what science knows and has demonstrated.

Daniel Pink’s conclusion is that, in order to foster motivation, we have to develop trust, self-reliance, initiative, and creativity. All this while reducing control, pressure, and strict management styles.

To motivate those employees who work in positions where they are required to use their knowledge and judgment, Pink suggests these three areas as the ones we should focus on when we want to increase motivation, performance, and satisfaction:

  • Autonomy — Our desire to be self-directed. This increases engagement over compliance.
  • Mastery — The urge to get better skilled, to learn new things, to develop new ideas, to acquire new skills.
  • Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning, impact (or relevance), and is rewarding for one’s set of values. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.

The approach described in the book is not completely new. Still, here the author has been able to organize all the research results from several different fields and present his ideas in a practical, effective, and brilliant way.

Pink makes it extremely clear to understand: motivation cannot be extrinsic. Motivation can only be intrinsic, to be effective.

According to the author: “the behavior, which is built around intrinsic motivation, draws on resources that are easily replenished and inflict little damage. It is the motivational equivalent of clean energy: inexpensive, safe to use, and endlessly renewable”.

So what comes out from reading this book is the awareness that intrinsic motivation is critical for our success both in our personal and professional activities.

Pink then describes how the autonomy of a person can be developed, and his approach is very similar to the one I use: autonomy should be granted and fostered over:

  • what people do,
  • when they do it,
  • how they do it,
  • whom they do it with

I really appreciated this book, and I think it’s an essential read for both employees and managers. Obviously, if you are a coach or a consultant, you should also be using a scientific-backed approach in your practice, and the approach described in this book is obviously one of the best.


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