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Book reviews > Drive


Pink, D. (2009). Drive, Rivergate Books


I read many books, and when you do this you have end up with two speeds: fast and slow depending on how worthwhile you find the book. So what kind of book is this? Is it a quick zip, a fast-food kind of book, or a slow-burning chew every mouthful volume?

Well first of all, Dan Pink writes well, which is probably not surprising as he is a former speechwriter for Al Gore. The text is neither impenetrably academic nor overly casual. It informs clearly and without effort.

The subject matter is motivation, and starts with a discussion of how the carrot and stick of extrinsic motivation, which was good for repetitive 'algorithmic' work, is less than effective for modern knowledge work, where wide intelligent decision-making and innovation is essential.

The tricky nature of how we are truly motivated is uncovered with plentiful examples and descriptions of sound research. For example it is shown how payment can signal that a task is undesirable and so reduce intrinsic motivation.

The heart of the book unpicks intrinsic motivation, in particular through the three key elements of autonomy, mastery and purpose. The rest of the book then takes an applied position, showing how these principles can be applied in the workplace.

The book ends up with a comprehensive summary, covering the contents from several different angles and providing an easy future reference.

This is the sort of book I like most. One which picks a subject and covers it well. One which is grounded in solid research and yet links to the real world. One which matches how I work, which has been describe as 'head in the clouds, feet on the ground'. 

So what would I change? Not much. The subject is covered well and in decent detail. I am a visual thinker and like supporting diagrams, of which perhaps there could have been more.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I took quite a long time reading (and re-reading) this excellent book It covers the subject of motivation strongly and well, and is now one of my definitive references in a rather large library. I've even referenced it in the next version of my Changing Minds: In Detail book, which is probably as much of a compliment I can pay.

It gets a rare and deserved five stars, and I commend it to you as a readable and worthy reference.


Buy Me

Dan Pink, 2009, Drive, NY: Riverhead Boks  

Motivation is what makes us do what we do, but as Dan Pink points out, what motivates us is often now what we think motivates us. 



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