Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

drive_coverThe first two Daniel Pink books that I read were A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future and Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working For Yourself. Free Agent Nation is about the transformation of the American workplace due to technology empowering individuals to work independently. A Whole New Mind describes the importance of utilizing the creative side (right side) of the brain for getting ahead in business. Pink is an author who observes trends, positive and negative, and links multiple sources of research that support his theory of change.

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink analyzes motivation through decades of research. He organizes his book into three parts. Part 1 provides the reader with a background of studies that determine what motivates people. Carrots and sticks (rewards and punishments) are touted as being successful for jobs in which only mechanical skills are necessary. For creative, right-brain tasks, Pink states that “after the fact” rewards offering praise and feedback are much better than the carrot and stick approach. He creates a “Type I” personality that describes someone whose behavior is more powered by “intrinsic” desires than “extrinsic” desires. People who exhibit Type I behavior are more concerned with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself rather than any particular external rewards. Part 2 discusses three elements, autonomy, mastery, and purpose that are necessary for motivation. In the chapter on autonomy, Pink cites numerous examples where companies have empowered employees to think more independently and creatively with fantastic results. Within the chapter on mastery, Pink provides relevant research under the headings of “Mastery is a Mindset,” “Mastery is a Pain,” and “Mastery is an Asymptote.” In describing Purpose, the author states that the most motivated people attach themselves to a cause that is larger than themselves. Part 3 is cleverly named and designed as “The Type I Toolkit.” In this section of the book, Pink provides seven different guides for scenarios in which an individual or group of individuals could apply the lessons learned in Drive. He also encourages individuals who think of additional lessons and scenarios to contact him for future updates of the Toolkit.

Drive is well-written and thought-provoking for anyone interested in learning more about motivation. Pink makes a valid case for senior management in any business, non-profit, or for-profit, to evolve their corporate culture and incentive programs from Motivation 2.0 to Motivation 3.0. His toolkit is designed to encourage discussions among individuals about the concepts and the benefits of implementing a Motivation 3.0, Type I rewards system. The increasing availability of knowledge through the Internet encourages individuals to become more creative and right-brain-driven. Pink’s encouragement of the development of Type I’s may be prescient for a shift in management thinking given the widening availability of technology and knowledge. I encourage you to read Drive.

Subjects of Interest


Higher Education

Independent Schools


Student Persistence