Dec 25, 2015

Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

I'm intrigued by the theories of motivation and behavioral psychology - what pushes us to do something, start an initiative, take it to completion, bring people together for a common cause and many more important and mundane steps we take in life. This interest has led me towards some very interesting books and the recent read has been this simple and profound book "Drive" written by Daniel Pink. I have listened to his TED talk earlier and have read about the core principles of intrinsic motivation. I finally made time this past week to really dive into the book and explore the principles in detail.

The author first talks about what's wrong with the earlier assumptions on motivation - the carrot-stick rewards/punishment practices, if-then rewards, extrinsic recognition, role of money etc. For the present knowledge economy, these practices are proving to be more detrimental in achieving individual/organization's goals. He lays down in depth the research behind intrinsic motivation and why tapping into this powerful resource can be the key differentiator for organizations towards empowerment and engagement of their employees. While I reflected back on some of the key moments of my career so far, I couldn't agree more on the author's views on the power of intrinsic motivation.

He then talks about the three basic triggers behind intrinsic motivation - autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Autonomy - how much freedom I have towards getting my work done. This can be measured in terms of 4 Ts - task, technique, time and team. The 20% time given to employees in organizations like Google and 3M, the focus on results rather than time leading to ROWE - result oriented work environment, internal hack days where you get to pick the team you want to work with etc are all examples of how organizations empower their employees through autonomy

Mastery - We all love to be experts at something that we care about. In order to tap into this trigger, we go through deliberate practice, day after day, month after month. We feel deeply motivated and inspired when we are sufficiently challenged and are in a state of "flow" where the process of engaging in an activity is more exciting than the end result/outcome. The author calls such activities as "Goldilocks tasks" where we are challenged slightly higher than our current abilities. A state where we are neither bored nor anxious. Organizations need to provide an environment where their employees can experience flow on a frequent basis that will help them reach the state of mastery. This was my most favorite chapter and I really understood the importance of getting into "flow" on a regular basis.

Purpose - The world is moving from "profit maximization" to "purpose maximization" where individuals and organizations are motivated by causes larger than themselves. Associating a clear purpose motivates employees to pursue mastery and inspires them to take decisions. I was able to relate some of the principles that were discussed here with what was covered in "Start with Why" by Simon Senek that I read a few weeks back.

If you manage teams or run an organization, do give this book a read. It is filled with valuable insights that will help you to motivate your team to reach their potential.

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