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Drive - Book summary

Reward good behaviours and punish bad behaviours–that’s the carrot-and-stick approach to motivation that most of us are familiar with. In Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink draws on four decades of scientific research to reveal the elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These can truly release people’s innate drive to improve productivity and fulfillment.  In this free Drive summary, we’ll summarize some of the key highlights from the book, with an overview of ingredients for intrinsic motivation or drive.

Societies as Operating Systems

Like computers, societies have operating systems – our laws and social-economic frameworks are built on assumptions of how things work and how humans behave. Pink traces how these underlying assumptions (and consequently society’s operating systems) have evolved over time:
Daniel Pink Drive summary_Operating SystemsFor the 21st century, Daniel Pink recommends a full upgrade to the third drive or Motivation 3.0, which is built on the assumption that, besides biological urges and extrinsic motivation, humans also have a desire to learn, to create, and to make the world a better place. In short, it recognizes the power of intrinsic motivation.

The Three Elements of Motivation 3.0

Self-Determination Theory (SDT)

Motivation 3.0 is built on the self-determination theory (SDT), which says that human beings have an innate drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected. If we focus on creating environments where this drive can be expressed, people are more productive, fulfilled and happy. To create such an environment, you need to focus on the 3 elements of intrinsic motivation.

The 3 Elements of Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation essentially involves 3 elements:
• Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives;
• Mastery: The desire to get better and better at something that matters; and
• Purpose: The desire to serve something larger than ourselves.
Daniel Pink Drive summary_intrinsic motivationPink elaborates on how you can inject all 3 components into the workplace to unleash the inner drive.  You can also get more details at a glance with our  Drive book summary.

The Role of Extrinsic Rewards

While tapping on intrinsic motivation can truly release people’s innate drive to improve productivity and fulfillment, it doesn’t  mean that we should do away with extrinsic rewards altogether.  We’ll now take a closer look at the importance of baseline rewards and how to tailor the right rewards to match a job.

When and How to Use Carrots and Sticks

Rewards (especially contingent or if-then rewards) tend to narrow our focus. This is helpful for mundane or algorithmic tasks but could hinder right-brain thinking or creative solutions.

The Starting Point : Baseline rewards

Baseline rewards (like salary, some perks and benefits) are pre-requisites to motivation, i.e. people must minimally be paid a fair and equitable amount. Without a healthy baseline, there is no motivation to speak of. However, beyond that baseline, money or carrots and sticks can actually dampen rather than increase motivation.

Using rewards effectively

The key is match the right type of rewards to the job.

If then-rewards can be effective for people performing routine, dull tasks that involve only mechanical skills.  You can learn additional tips on how to apply such rewards to boost performance from of full book summary bundle.

Now-then rewards can be offered for non-routine conceptual tasks i.e. offer rewards as a surprise or bonus after the task is completed. This is assuming the basic compensation and the 3 elements of autonomy, mastery and larger purpose are already in place.

Getting the Most from Drive

Ready to learn more about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivators and how to apply them in real life? Do get more insights, tips and examples from our full book summary bundle which includes a one-page infographic summary in pdf, a 9-page text summary in pdf, and a 17-min audio summary in mp3.

drive summary - book summary bundle

Daniel Pink’s concept of Motivation 3.0 is built upon 4 decades of scientific research, and he shares in details many experiments and studies that support the ideas in his book. He dedicates some 80 pages of his book to the “Type I Toolkit”, which is a guide to putting his ideas into action. You can read the purchase the book here and also assess if you are Type I or Type X using this free online assessment.

If you enjoyed this summary, you may also like our summaries for Nine Lies about Work and Work Rules!

About the Author of Drive

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us was written by Daniel H. Pink–born 1964 and raised in a small suburban town, Bexley, Ohio, (outside Columbus). He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a law degree from Yale Law School, but decided not to practice law. Pink worked in politics and economic policy, including being an aide to Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and being chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore.

In 1997, he quit his job to start out on his own. Besides Drive, he has authored four other books, including
• To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
• The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need
• A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future
• Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself

Drive Quotes

“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.”

“This era doesn’t call for better management. It calls for a renaissance of self-direction.”

“What people believe shapes what people achieve.”

“The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization. In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.”

“Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more.”

“Humanize what people say and you may well humanize what they do.”

Click here to download Drive book summary and infographic

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