Saturday, June 12, 2010

Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Drive is about intrinisic motivation or self motivation. The drives which lead us to excel; autonomy, purpose, and mastery. It is about how these drives are becoming more prevalent in the modern workplace. White collar work is going through the same route as blue collar work. It is being outsourced, homesourced, and automated. The creative aspects of white collar work are what survives. Daniel H. Pink is trying to counter current management theory which is often inadequate to deal with modern workplaces. He argues this is one of the reasons there has been so much economic uphieval.

He argues for an end to a focus on a rote work environment with strong fixed hours, routine work, and incentive plans. He also attacks carrot and stick management styles. In his view, there should be solid wages, more autonomy for workers, greater learning opportunities, and a focus on more than just profits.

Some of the changes in work which he describes are the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) created by Best Buy where scheduling becomes very flexible and Google's focus on giving its engineers 20% of their time to work on projects of their own design.

He also introduces us to psychological theories of motivation that are focused on what goes on inside people. He describes how optimal experiences and performance at work are not necessarily tied to incentives, but have a lot to do with the environment in the workplace. Two people he focuses on are Edward L. Deci and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.

Sometimes, I think Daniel H. Pink draws too much from mainstream management theorists to make his point. Peter F. Drucker, Gary Hamel, and Jim Collins are all very standard business leaders. It seems like he is often making points using people who have a different management style than the one he is proposing.

I liked his list of recommended reading. I plan on reading Infinite Games A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse. I have already read Talent Is Overrated What Really Separates World Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin.

This book would be good for people whose work is autonomous; artists, writers, programmers, and other creatives. I saw the book mentioned on Tobias Buckell's blog who is a science fiction writer. It also might be helpful for people who have to manage in an increasingly creative work environment.

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