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Book:  Drive

Author:  Daniel Pink

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation: Pink, D. (2009). Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. Salary, contract payments, some benefits, a few perks are what I call “baseline rewards.”  If someone’s baseline rewards aren’t adequate or equitable, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance.  The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. (pg. 34)​

  2. Results-only work environment:  In results-only work environment people don't have schedules. They show up when they want. They don't have to be in the office at a certain time, or any time, for that matter. They just have to get their work done. How they do it, when they do it, and where they do it is up to them.  In a results-only work environment,  employees are far less likely to jump to another job for a $10,000 or even a $20,000 increase in salary. The freedom they have to do great work is more valuable, and harder to match, then a pay raise.​

  3. 85% of our employees don’t need rules, policies, etc.  So what if we flipped our thinking - and designed our workplace policies for the 85 percent rather than the 15%?  Use them to unshackle the hard working majority rather than inhibit the less noble minority.  If you think people in your organization are predisposed to rip you off, maybe the solution isn’t to build a tighter, more punitive set of rules.  Maybe the answer is to hire new people. ​​


Other Key Ideas:

Enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver.

We leave lucrative jobs to take low-paying ones that provide a clearer sense of purpose.  We work to master the clarinet on weekends although we have little hope of making a dime or acquiring a mate from doing so.  We play with puzzles ever when we don’t get a few raisins or dollars for solving them. 

Behavioral scientists often divide what we do on the job or learn in school into two categories. Algorithmic and heuristic. An algorithmic task is one which you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion. That is, there's an algorithm for solving it.  A heuristic task is the opposite. Precisely because no algorithm exist for it, you have to experiment with possibilities and devised a novel solution.

External rewards and punishments, both carrots and sticks, can work nicely for algorithmic tasks. But they can be devastating for heuristic ones. 

If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you. 

Try to encourage a kid to learn math by paying her for each workbook page she completes - and she’ll almost certainly become more diligent in the short term and lose interest in math in the long term.  

Extrinsic rewards can be effective for algorithm attacks, those that depend on following an existing formula to its logical conclusion. But for more right brain undertakings, those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness, or conceptual understanding, contingent rewards can be dangerous. (pg. 44)​

Pay your son to take out the trash, and you pretty much guaranteed the kid will never do it again for free. What's more, once the initial money buzz tapers off, you'll likely have to increase the payment to continue compliance.

Several studies show that paying people to exercise, stop smoking, or take their medicines produces terrific result at first, but the healthy behavior disappears once the incentives are removed. (pg. 57)

For routine tasks, which aren't very interesting and don't demand much creative thinking, rewards can provide a small motivational booster shot without the harmful side effects. In some ways, that's just common sense. (pg. 60)

For routine tasks, use the following practices when convincing someone why they should complete the task:  Offer a rationale for why the task is necessary; Acknowledge that the task is boring; and, Allow people to complete the task their own way. (pg. 62)

Praise and positive feedback are much less corrosive than carrots, cash, and other extrinsic rewards.  Positive feedback can have an enhancing effect on intrinsic motivation.  In the workplace, people are thirsting to learn about how they're doing, but only if the information isn't a test an effort to manipulate their behavior. The more feedback focuses on specifics and the more the praise is about effort and strategy the more effective it can be. (pg. 65)


Hire good people, and leave them alone. (pg. 93)

Being pessimistic is almost always a recipe for low levels of what psychologists call “subjective well-being.”  Its also a detriment in most professions. (The one glaring exception to this rule is with lawyers). (pg. 96)

At Netflix, the vacation policy is simple:  Salaried employees can take as much time off as they’d like, whenever  they want to take it, so long as their work is covered.  Nobody - not managers or employers themselves - tracks vacation days.  The company explains it like this:  “We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked.” ​

Grit - rather than IQ or standardized test scores - is the most accurate predictor of college grades.  In every field, grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment. (pg. 123)

Correlation between money and happiness is weak - that past a certain level, a larger pile of cash doesn’t bring people a higher level of satisfaction.  

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