The key message of “Drive“, from Daniel H. Pink, is that people are best engaged in a task when they understand the purpose of the job, they can develop the necessary mastery to realise the job, and they have sufficient autonomy to direct things their way.
That’s a very simple framework — purpose, mastery, autonomy — and I very much like it.
The problem with the book is that beside this simple message, there’s little more. The book presents scientific studies to backup the ideas and tries to trace the evolution of these ideas. It’s entertaining but very annectodical. The second half of the book has a “toolkit” to reflect on motivation, summaries of the book, a glossary, and even conversation starters. In themselves, these are creative ideas. But it did feel a bit like milking the content.
One idea that is somehow developped in the book and that differ from the main framework is the difference between intrinsic and extrasinc motivation. Instinsic motivation is way stronger. If the activity, like playing a game, is the reward itself, there’s no need of an external reward. Or maybe the activity is not the reward itself, but we understand the reward ourselves, without external inputs. We know how to kill intrisinc motivation (pay somebody to do what he would do for free), but how to foster it is very challenging.
The question of how to develop engagement is actually a very intersting one. It’s not only interesting in the context of the workplace, but also in education, or social community.
This book has a nice message. I just wished it had more depth.