Book Review: Drive

Daniel H. Pink: “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”

I read this book quite some time ago when I was still at university. It was on the compulsory reading list in my Organizational Planning and Development course and profoundly shaped my view of work organization and motivation.

In his book, Dan Pink presents a wide variety of research on how extrinsic incentives (money, most importantly) don’t increase motivation in people once their basic needs are covered. Instead, he presents a model on how to make sure people (employees) are motivated intrinsically. The key motivators he identifies in this context are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. With this implies that to be inspired in our work, we need

  • a certain degree of freedom and responsibility on how to achieve the task at hand (autonomy),
  • the possibility to become better at what we are doing (mastery),
  • and the feeling that what we are doing matters and is more than just a means to an end, e. g. to make the company grow or become more profitable (purpose).

Having studied business administration and management for a while by then, this resounded with me profoundly. I felt like I had finally found a little piece of what I felt was wrong with the current management practices in large companies.

The pure content of this book was quite a revelation to me. But I also liked how the author presented his findings. Every theory he proposes is backed up by data (something the German in me appreciates) but is also connected to real-life examples from actual organizations. Finally, I liked how he takes his findings a little further (e. g. with tips on how to stay motivated to exercise) and provides a list of references for further reading on the topic.

All in all, the ideas in the book are not only well-presented but were a real eye-opener for me. I may be influenced by this when it comes to rating, but I will give five of five possible stars anyway. I highly recommend this piece, even though it was published a few years back.

Overall rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

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