Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is the books written by Daniel H. Pink. It is a New York Times,Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Publishers Weekly, and Indie Bound bestseller that breaks the stereotypes about motivation. Published in 2011 by Penguin, it consists of 242 pages. The first year of publication is 2008. It was among top 50 bestsellers in 2010 and among top 100 bestsellers in 2011.

I have chosen this book as it is full of the new and unknown before ideas. It changes people’s way of thinking and transforms their future. This book causes the readers to forget everything they knew about the incentive before.  Pink reveals the secrets of high labor productivity and success. According to the author, this secret lies on the people’s wish to lead their lives, to discover something new, and to create new things, not only to improve their lives but the whole world.

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink argues that in the twenty-first century, people do not know what are the true drives and impulses that can motivate them. Moreover, people reject them, consider them unacceptable. The first one is the biological drive. The author refers to it as “Motivation 1.0.” It calls people for eating and producing the offspring. “Motivation 2.0″ is the external motivation, such as the rewards and punishments. He writes that the primary goal of the traditional companies is to maximize their profits. Pink says that his professors on economics have argued that people should work for maximizing their wealth. They concern on “Motivation 2.0.” But people are not robots that live to make their fortune as large as possible.

However, there is the third drive that really motivates people called “Motivation 3.0.” In Drive, the author focuses on the disclosure of three main components of this drive. The first one is autonomy. All people wish to have a right of self-management, to take the responsibility for their well-being, and to control their lives at their discretion. The second element is mastery. People want to dominate, to get supremacy over others, and to achieve better and better results in the sphere that is important for them. The third one is the purpose. People are ambitious and should do their best to achieve the desired effects.

He writes about the discrepancy between what science says and what business does, and how this non-correspondence affects people’s lives (Pink, 2011). He says that reward and punishment method is outdated. It was useful in the twentieth century, but not nowadays.  Unfortunately, this old-fashioned approach often has a reverse effect. It demotivates people instead of stimulate or encourage them. Pink refers to Harry F. Harlow’s research on the primates (Pink, 2011). It proves that the popular carrot and stick method prevents monkeys from solving the puzzles. However, everyone neglected Harlow’s study, and the reward and punishment method prospered.

Pink analyzes the growth of Wikipedia, Mozilla Firefox, Apache, Linux, cookbooks, and other companies. He shows the truthfulness of Harlow’s discovery and the efficiency of the third drive. They use a radically different model of management. They use autonomous work and long-term rewards.

Pink examines motivation mainly in the business sphere, and also in the field of education. The encouragement of the workers, better than anything else, affects the company growth. The standard carrot and stick method has the opposite effect. It causes the reduction of the productivity. However, there is one problem. This reward and punishment approach works but only for routine mechanical tasks. This method is acceptable only if the company wants its workers just to comply with the commands. The old-fashioned methods seem to be the only possible truth. People do everything by the rules. Some people do menial jobs; and the more tasks they have, the harder they work. Carrot and stick method is ineffective for the jobs associated with creativity. It destroys the essential motivation and transforms creativity into the forced labor.

The same rule applies to schools. If the teachers offer their students the external rewards, they get used to working only for such rewards. They do not learn the subject with the interest. They study for the examination, and it does not give them the new knowledge that they can use later in their lives. Unfortunately, this method gives short-term results and is destructive in general.

Carrots and sticks, or “Motivation 2.0”, cannot stimulate people in the twenty-first century. Pink shares his views regarding this motivation with the readers. Rewarding can cause people work more and better, which is good. But punishing an activity will make them work less and worse, which is bad. Pink explains describes how the principle of carrot and stick can cause negative effects. It can destroy intrinsic motivation, reduce labor productivity, break creativity, stimulate short-term thinking. It can also cause bad behavior and lie among the students.

It does not mean that people should work in a non-competitive atmosphere. He classifies salary, contract payments, perks, and some other additional benefits to the basic rewards (Pink, 2011). If they are deficient, the employers will consider that the company treats them not in a proper way. People’s creativity will decrease. However, salary and bonuses are short-term but not the principle motivation. If autonomous, encouraged employees work in a company, it will make a profit and will be successful, at the same time when other companies will be out of business. Pink says that management is not the solution. It is the problem.

Mainly, the book focuses on three elements of the new approach to motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Pink defines them as “Motivation 3.0.” They are necessary for the happy and productive work.

Autonomy is necessary for happiness. A person has to live and feel as if he or she is navigating his or her ship. It is essential for people to feel like they are ahead, manage their lives, and have everything under control. The employees should work for the result. He writes about “results-only work environment,” or ROWE (Pink, 2011). People may work at home if this type of work is more efficient for them. The meetings may be optional. The only important thing is a good result. Of course, it is hard to transform the managers’ and employees’ way of thinking. This particular approach is difficult to understand for the schools and companies that are used to the traditional methods. They are used to the strict control. Nowadays most of the companies use hierarchical model when the higher-ranking issue the orders and the lower-ranking perform their commands. It will be hard for them to change their type of management. Of course, this work-for-result approach can be extreme. It is better to apply this method for the beginners than to the existing companies with the established rules and regulations. However, they should be careful with this method of autonomy.

Another component is mastery. People can achieve it over the years. The author also writes about the flow or motion. It is also important for people to get satisfaction of their daily achievements when they do something not very easy but not too difficult. Flow is the pleasure of the daily result. Step by step, it leads people to the mastery. To achieve this flow, a person needs an autonomy and positive feedback. It is important to set the clear goals. People also have to do something that catches the interest, is not too easy but not too hard.

The third element of motivation is the purpose. The first and the second components bring happiness and productivity for a short period. The employees work with the high performance, enjoying the results every day, without setting higher objectives. But then they start asking themselves and their managers what is the principal goal of their work. Not to lose motivation at this stage, the understanding of the purpose is essential.

The final part of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is a “toolkit.” Pink gives the recommendations how to change people’s lives, transforming their way of thinking and using “Motivation 3.0.” He offers the strategies that can help people analyze their lives and achieve the flow. People need to get pleasure from their progress and accomplishment. It is interesting that he advises people to sum up their lives in one sentence. He recommends that they should achieve mastery. Managers need to understand that their company will be more prosperous in case they take into account the third drive and apply it to the workers. As Pink says, employers have to focus on mastery and high purposes instead of the short-term objectives. Regarding personal autonomy, people will work better if they set their tasks themselves and go to their targets. Such approach is healthy and causes productivity. Obviously, such goals as amounts of sales, as well as the results of standard tests, cannot motivate the employees because other people impose them.

Pink refers to two behavioral scientists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. They studied the natural motivation and introduced such notion as “self-determination theory” or “SDT.” (Pink, 2011) It begins not with trends but human needs. These genuine needs are autonomy, proficiency, and connection. According to this theory, without taking into account these needs, productivity, motivation, and happiness will fall. Motivation 2.0 breaks these needs. Self-determination theory describes that people have an inherent desire to be autonomous, self-determined, and related to one another. People should be aware of it.

Pink also refers to the work of Douglas McGregor as well. He says that sometimes the companies have incorrect supposition about the human behavior (Pink, 2011). Some managers and employers believe that people do not wish to take responsibility, they are afraid of making their decisions, that they need supervision. However, such belief is strikingly wrong.

Pink introduces the companies that use his approaches, although there are not many of them. For example, Google gives autonomy to its workers. Google created many innovative products, such as Google News, Gmail, and Google Translate. This company allows employees to devote one-fifth of their time to autonomous work. It means that Google, as well as some other modern companies, tries to explore the power of the new approach to motivation.

To conclude, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is an enjoyable and incentive book. It is a teachable study of innovative motivation approaches. This research must be useful for the managers. What I like in Pink’s book is that he focuses not on the correctness of his methods and judgments but on the factors that make people happy, motivated, and successful. A little minus of this book is that there is little peer review. People are not familiar with the details of the investigations and discoveries that the author includes in his book.

The outdated approach of carrot and stick has already become inefficient. The companies need more productivity and prosperity. According to an innovative approach, to reach success, the companies have to give their employers autonomy. People, in their turn, will feel satisfied when they achieve mastery and the highest purpose.

Pink’s book caught my interest, and I felt motivated while reading it. I can recommend it as every person should realize that the twenty-first century world needs the new methods of management. People have to review their thoughts upon motivation and feel pleased when achieving their ambitions.
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