Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Author: Daniel Pink

Summary: when it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does.  Our current business operating system—which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators—doesn’t work and often does harm.  We need an upgrade.  And the science shows the way.  This new approach has three essential elements:

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

Autonomy: our default setting is to be autonomous and self-directed.   People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it).  Companies that offer autonomy, sometimes in radical doses, are outperforming their competitors.

Mastery: begins with “flow”—optimal experiences when the challenges we face are exquisitely matched to our abilities.  Mastery is a mindset: it requires the capacity to see your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable.  Mastery is a pain: it demands effort, grit and deliberate practice.  And mastery is an asymptote: it’s impossible to fully realize, which makes it simultaneously frustrating and alluring.

Purpose: humans, by their nature, seek purpose—a cause greater and more enduring than themselves.  But traditional businesses have long considered purpose ornamental—a perfectly nice accessory, so long as it didn’t get in the way of the important things.

The performance of the task provides intrinsic reward.  The joy of the task was its own reward.

Enjoyment based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on a project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver.

If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you.

Carrots and sticks: the seven deadly flaws:

They can extinguish intrinsic motivation

They can diminish performance

They can crush creativity

They can crowd out good behavior

They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior

They can become addictive

They can foster short term thinking

Management isn’t about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices.  It’s about creating conditions for people to do their best work.  That’s why you should give employees a long leash.

It requires resisting the temptation to control people—and instead doing everything we can to reawaken their deep-seated sense of autonomy.

Hire good people, and leave them alone.

In the past, work was defined primarily by putting in time, and secondarily on getting results.  We need to flip that model.

The opposite of autonomy is control.  And since they sit at different poles of the behavioral compass, they point us toward different destinations.  Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.

Flow: forgetting yourself in a function. You are so into your work that you lose track of time.

In flow, the relationship between what a person had to do and what he could do was perfect.  The challenge wasn’t too easy.  Nor was it too difficult.  It was a notch or two beyond his current abilities, which stretched the body and mind in a way that made the effort itself the most delicious reward.

Those who have an “entity theory” believe that intelligence is just that—an entity.  It exists within us, in a finite supply that we cannot increase.

Those who subscribe to an “incremental theory” take a different view.  They believe that while intelligence may vary slightly from person to person, it is ultimately something that, with effort, we can increase.

To analogize to physical qualities, incremental theorists consider intelligence as something like strength.  (Want to get stronger and more muscular?  Start pumping iron.)  Entity theorists view it as something more like height.  (Want to get taller?  You’re out of luck.)

If you believe intelligence is a fixed quantity, then every educational and professional encounter becomes a measure of how much you have.  If you believe intelligence is something you can increase, then the same encounters become opportunities for growth.  In one view, intelligence is something you demonstrate; in the other, it’s something you develop.

Being a professional, Julius Erving once said, is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t fell like doing them.

People are much more likely to reach flow state at work than in leisure.  Work can often have the structure of other autotelic experiences; clear goals, immediate feedback, challenges well matched to our abilities.  And when it does, we don’t just enjoy it more, we do it better.

The most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

A great man is one sentence.  What’s your sentence?

Expending energy trying to motivate people is largely a waste of time.  If you have the right people on the bus, they will be self-motivated.  The real question then becomes: How do you manage in such a way as not to de-motivate people?  Jim Collins

Four basic practices for creating a culture where self-motivation can flourish:

Lead with questions, not answers

Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion

Conduct autopsies, without blame

Build red flag mechanisms.  In other words, make it easy for employees and customers to speak up when they identify a problem.     Jim Collins