Drive by Daniel H. Pink: Summary and Notes

daniel pink drive summary

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.”

Rating: 7/10

Related Books: The Sell is HumanStart With WhyA Whole New Mind, Built to Last, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Print Ebook Audiobook

Get all my book summaries here


Drive by Daniel H Pink: Short Summary

What motivates people to act as they do? There are many reasons, but the most powerful kind of motivation is intrinsic motivation. Companies, individuals, governments, schools, and even parents should seek to cultivate and encourage intrinsic motivation. An excellent book on why and how companies should be modeled for the 21st century.

Part 1: A New Operating System

Societies have operating systems. They include the laws, customs, economic arrangements, and the supposition of how the world works.

Motivation 1.0: The very first human operating system was based on survival

Motivation 2.0: As people began to cooperate, a new operating system that was based on how to respond to punishment and rewards was created

Harnessing motivation 2.0 was important for our economic development especially during the industrial revolution. Most companies still believe that the way to improve performance is to reward the good and punish the bad.

However, motivation 2.0 is incompatible with:

  • How we organize what we do. Recent trends like open-source software and benefit corporations cannot be explained by extrinsic motivation
  • How we think about what we do. Intrinsic motivation matters more than external motivations when making decisions
  • How we do what we do. As jobs become more reliant on creative expression and less on routines, the need for extrinsic motivation decreases

Seven Reasons Why Carrots and Sticks Doesn’t Work

  1. It can extinguish intrinsic motivation
  2. It can extinguish performance
  3. It can crush creativity
  4. It can crowd out good behavior
  5. It can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and other forms of unethical behavior
  6. It can be addictive
  7. It can foster short term thinking

Motivation 2.0 is not all bad. When fairness is involved in both reward and punishment, people will be motivated.

“For routine tasks, which aren’t very interesting and don’t demand much creative thinking, rewards can provide a small motivational booster shot without the harmful side effects.”

Type X behavior: Influenced by external behaviors like money rather than internal rewards like satisfaction with self.

Type I behavior: Influenced by intrinsic motivations. It is corned less by the external rewards to which an activity leads. This kind of behavior is a renewable resource. It promotes greater physical and mental well-being.

To strengthen your organizations and address the many problems that are facing the world, you need to move from Type X to Type I behavior.

“(The most successful people are) working hard and persisting through difficulties because of their internal desire to control their lives, learn about their world, and accomplish something that endures.”

Part 2: The Three Elements

daniel pink drive summary - Part 2: The Three Elements

For algorithmic work (work that involves no creativity), carrots like a bonus is a good way to improve performance.

But for creative work, if-then rewards can decrease performance.

To motivate creative work you need to have:

  • Autonomy. Human basic nature is to be curious and self-directed. Employees need to be given more autonomy in the workplace
  • Mastery. Mastery is an important element of our intrinsic drive
  • Purpose. The most motivated people have a purpose that is larger than themselves. Motivation 3.0 is built for purpose maximization

“The best way to avoid the seven deadly flaws of extrinsic motivators is to avoid them altogether or to downplay them significantly and instead emphasize the elements of deeper motivation autonomy, mastery, and purpose.”

Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete. Don’t hold out a prize at the beginning of a project or people will focus the reward rather than the problem.

You should also consider nontangible rewards.

For example:

Give praise and positive feedback as a reward. Studies show positive feedback augments intrinsic motivation.

Praise the strategy rather than the outcome.

Finally, give people meaningful information about their work. People want to know how they’re doing and how they can grow.

Type I Toolkit

At the end of every day, ask yourself if you were better than you were yesterday.

Engage in deliberate practice. Seek constant and critical feedback and prepare for the process to be tough and physically exhausting.

Steps to giving up control or creating autonomy:

  1. Involve people in goal setting
  2. Use non-controlling language
  3. Create time for your employees to come and say anything that they want

“The most important aspect of any compensation package is fairness. And here, fairness comes in two varieties internal and external. Internal fairness means paying people commensurate with their colleagues. External fairness means paying people in line with others doing similar work in similar organizations.”