In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Daniel H. Pink attempts a Malcolm Gladwell meets the One Minute Manager (The One Minute Manager)
approach to getting some well known (and less than surprising) but not universally adapted findings about motivation across to the general public.
To start off with, the main theme of the book, namely that the currently widely practiced pay for performance schemes hardly produce an improvement in the latter (and often lead to a drop in intrinsic motivation) in white collar or 'creative' environments is certainly correct and additional repetition of the message cannot harm. This is the reason I gave the book a 4 star rating, even if I find it more of a 3 star effort based on its content alone.
However Herzberg's Motivation to Work
laid the main themes well enough a long time ago (and has been recognized as the classic in the field), so if you are familiar with his 'money is a hygiene factor and not a motivator' theme (so as soon as you pay people enough to take the money discussion off the table, it is best to leave it there) there will be little new for you here.
The book starts with a brief introduction on what the author calls Motivation 1.0 and 2.0, the latter being more or less in line with Taylorist management thinking. Unfortunately Pink buys the success of Taylor's scientific management, when applied to manual tasks wholeheartedly (something that has long been severely questioned - The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong
being a good place to start for an interested reader) and only questions the effectiveness, when more creative tasks are being rewarded. He then goes on describing the three real motivators, namely autonomy, mastery and purpose and how these demonstrably improve both motivation and performance. Finally, he finishes with a toolkit for bringing intrinsic motivation about, with checklists and short soundbites on what is necessary and how one could go about starting the journey.
The main authors quoted throughout are Edward Deci (Why We Do What We Do
) and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow
) and while there is little to fault in terms of any of their findings, or the presentation here, I find that an interested reader will be better served by the originals than the summarized findings of Pink's book.
This book likely works best for the harried manager, who really only can afford the time that can be squeezed into a short haul flight to get up to speed on motivation. For this it works better than the very popular One Minute Manager (The One Minute Manager)
and Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
type books, as it does not break it down to a story that may find readers turned off by appearing patronizing.
Still, I find the author does not quite reach the writing talent of someone like Malcolm Gladwell, who in my opinion manages to package existing research into something novel and interesting, rather than make it appear like a summary of the main (but already relatively well known) findings on the topic.
If the company is yours, though, and you have more than just a handful of hours to devote to motivating your employees, you will be much better served by reading Herzberg, Deci and Csikszentmihalyi directly - all of them write well enough and you will get much more meat on what works, and what not than here.