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Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Drive by Daniel PinkDrive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

By Daniel Pink
Penguin Books, 2009

[powerpress http://gsbm-med.pepperdine.edu/gbr/audio/spring2010/drive.mp3]

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5 stars: Stop what you're doing and read this book!

Daniel Pink also wrote the book A Whole New Mind, which is about right-brain vs. left-brain thinking. This book addresses another key area for organizations today—motivation.

In Drive, Pink looks at the three legs of a tripod holding up organizations: Autonomy; Mastery; Purpose. He attacks each of these in depth. What makes this book a five on the rating scale is that it really is taking a new look at the way organizations should operate in the 21st century.

The main point is that the old “carrot and stick” motivational methods are somewhat passé in many industries. For instance, rewarding someone for creativity and punishing them for missing creative deadlines doesn’t make sense—especially if you really can’t determine how long it may take. People in creative jobs need and want to figure things out by themselves. Constantly looking over an employee’s shoulder or, as a friend of mine says “weighing the pig” (metrics, metrics, metrics) can be de-motivating.

When I first started in the computer business as a salesman, I was given a great deal of autonomy and created my own way of selling based on some guidelines. I was not micro-managed and was expected to perform, which I took seriously. I see many managers today who are constantly harassing their salespeople and can’t understand why they have such high turnover.

The second leg is Mastery. It is hard for me to fathom that “faking it” will really work in today’s world. It is a much more sophisticated environment. Mastery really fills an urge, according to the author, to get better at something that matters. People want to know more and will work hard to learn, given the chance.

Again, many organizations really don’t let people master their jobs. It may be that they themselves never mastered their own jobs and subjects. I know of organizations whose “leaders” don’t even know what their company sells—only that they need to use the whip and let the commission plan be the carrot.

The last leg is Purpose. I hear so many people today who complain about the new generation of workers. Having taught at a University recently, I find that Mr. Pink’s observations ring true. Today’s generation wants to do things that count. The pursuit of money is not the most important thing. The author points out that if you pay someone a good wage, this is enough. Purpose also doesn’t mean that one has to work for a nonprofit that does “good work.” It means that the person is contributing the betterment of the organization.

The bottom line of this book is that today’s workers want to be motivated and do a good job along with earning a good living. Using his three legs of the stool can give an organization a huge advantage in the marketplace.

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