Drive by Daniel H. Pink

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Synopsis of Content:

Drive is about what science teaches about motivation, how it differs from mainstream business practices, and how business in the 21st century is and needs to learn from this science to improve employee performance.

Pink characterizes three generations of motivation. Motivation 1.0 is the basic needs motivation: you need food and water and shelter and you will do what you need to in order to secure those things. Motivation 2.0 is the so called carrot and stick motivation techniques business, schools and government have used for centuries: rewarding people with money and other rewards for desirable conduct and punishing with sanctions such as termination from employment for undesirable conduct. Pink argues that Motivation 2.0 is unreliable and inadequate for knowledge workers in the 21st century.

He then describes Motivation 3.0 – engaging people through greater autonomy, mastery and purpose. He demonstrates how the science of psychology has shown this more elegant method of motivation is more consistently effective and far cheaper to provide.

At the end of the book he sets forth a plan on how to implement this new motivational method in an organization.

The book has a broader significance however than just organizational motivation techniques. It teaches the reader how they can best motivate themselves and obtain more from their work by seeking purpose in what they do, developing mastery over what they do and reaping greater satisfaction in the process.

This is an enlightening and important book on many levels.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Pink’s writing style is easy to follow. While he cites many studies and discusses the science behind his conclusions the book is very engaging and is not as dry as the subject matter might suggest. The chapters are well organized and build upon one another.

Notes on Author:

Daniel H. Pink is the author of A Whole New Mind, a best seller. He is also author of two other best sellers: The Adventures of Johnny Bunko and Free Agent Nation. He lectures on economic transformation and the “new workplace”.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Traditional motivational techniques in business and education based on carrot and stick approaches are unreliable, especially for the modern knowledge worker. Employers need to learn about engagement motivation and apply it to motivate workers to a higher level of sustained performance.
  2. Engaging people is based on intrinsic motivation rather than the extrinsic motivation of the older carrot and stick approach. While it is more challenging to implement and sustain due to its complexity, it is also more effective.
  3. Rewards narrow our focus causing us to concentrate on getting the reward – this diminishes creative capacity and can dumb down the potential of anyone, even the most gifted or capable.

Publication Information:  

Drive by Daniel H. Pink  (c) 2009. Published by Riverhead Books, Penguin Group. 242 pages hardbound.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.