Best Books Dani­el H. Pink | Dri­ve. The sur­pri­sing truth about what moti­va­tes us

I’m con­vin­ced that our basic natu­re is to be curious and self-direc­ted.”

We deal with the topic of moti­va­ti­on every day:

  • When we encoun­ter the first obsta­cle each morning when we get out of bed.
  • During a never-ending dis­cus­sion when doing home­work with the child­ren.
  • When try­ing to find our dri­ve for the evening vol­ley­ball prac­ti­ce.

It’s real­ly nice to find a book rela­ted to the many sides of life. Dri­ve. The sur­pri­sing truth about what moti­va­tes us is such a book.

What is it about? You pro­bab­ly can alrea­dy guess: moti­va­ti­on.

For us, this is not only an important topic for our pri­va­te lives, but also pro­fes­sio­nal­ly. On the one hand, we want to main­tain our own high moti­va­ti­on at SAPE­RED, and, on the other, we want to and need to moti­va­te peop­le to con­stant­ly deve­lop. Dri­ve was thus on our rea­ding list.

Wha­t’s it all about?

We live in a high­ly com­plex socie­ty in which the bulk of our work is crea­ti­ve, empa­the­tic and not based on rou­ti­ne. The lea­ders­hip prac­ti­ces app­lied sin­ce the first indus­tri­al revo­lu­ti­on no lon­ger work. On the con­tra­ry, they are coun­ter­pro­duc­ti­ve. So much regar­ding histo­ry.

To illus­tra­te this, Pink dis­tin­guis­hes bet­ween two dif­fe­rent types of beha­viour at the begin­ning of the book: Type X and Type I. Type X is pre­do­mi­nant­ly extrinsi­cal­ly moti­va­ted (x comes from extrinsi­cal­ly) and the­re­fo­re focu­ses more on the extrinsic reward for the result of their work. Type I, on the other hand, is intrinsi­cal­ly moti­va­ted and draws its ener­gy main­ly from the work its­elf. Pink bases his work on several stu­dies that show clear dis­ad­van­ta­ges of extrinsi­cal­ly moti­va­ted if you do A, then you will get B” beha­viour: it can redu­ce intrinsic moti­va­ti­on and per­for­mance, sup­press crea­ti­vi­ty, dimi­nish good beha­viour, pro­mo­te short-term thin­king, short-cuts, chea­ting and lead to addic­tion” (with extrinsic moti­va­ti­on, it’s like with drugs: I have to con­stant­ly incre­a­se the dose to achie­ve the same kick). Extrinsic moti­va­ti­on should the­re­fo­re be used wise­ly and only in hand-picked situa­tions.

Most com­pa­nies, but also insti­tu­ti­ons such as schools and uni­ver­si­ties, ope­ra­te accord­ing to a sys­tem that pro­mo­tes extrinsi­cal­ly moti­va­ted beha­viour. That is why Pink advo­ca­tes for the crea­ti­on of a new ope­ra­ting sys­tem” that sup­ports and pro­mo­tes type I beha­viour. Becau­se intrinsi­cal­ly moti­va­ted peop­le are not only more pro­duc­ti­ve, they are usual­ly also more satis­fied, healt­hi­er and more mental­ly balan­ced.

Accord­ing to Pink, the key to intrinsic moti­va­ti­on lies in three ele­ments: auto­no­my, com­pe­tence and a fee­ling of belon­ging belon­ging through pur­po­se. It is a fun­da­men­tal human need to deter­mi­ne, learn and crea­te new things about our (work)life; to impro­ve our­sel­ves and the world. Crea­ting an envi­ron­ment that addres­ses and satis­fies the­se three needs is now the task. For this pur­po­se, Dri­ve gives inspi­ra­ti­on with many examp­les of com­pa­nies that have suc­cess­ful­ly taken on this mis­si­on.


What does this mean for us?

For us at SAPE­RED, it is important to crea­te a cul­tu­re in which we can flou­rish, in which all employees can deve­lop and actively shape our busi­ness. This is an ongo­ing task and chal­len­ge, about which we have repor­ted in this blog arti­cle.

And, of cour­se, the topic of moti­va­ti­on dri­ves us when we deve­lop trai­ning cour­ses: How do we link the per­so­nal deve­lo­p­ment of the indi­vi­du­al with the com­pany’s goals, crea­te space for crea­ti­vi­ty and encou­ra­ge lear­ners to use it?

We have lear­ned from Dani­el H. Pink that the lear­ning envi­ron­ment and cul­tu­re in com­pa­nies play a decisi­ve role in this regard. We must crea­te a mind­set, in which:

  • lifel­ong lear­ning is part of the cor­po­ra­te cul­tu­re,
  • fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment is an ever­y­day task
  • and employees have a say in what they want to learn, when and how they want to learn it.

Dani­el H. Pink cites nume­rous stu­dies in his book that sup­port his theo­ry. At the same time, he shows that the busi­ness world often has a com­ple­te­ly dif­fe­rent pic­tu­re of moti­va­ti­on. The­re is often the con­vic­tion that moti­va­ti­on can be bought by extrinsic means, that peop­le must func­tion accord­ing to pat­terns and that pur­po­se can be equa­ted with eco­no­mic suc­cess. We share Pin­k’s opi­ni­on: we think this view no lon­ger fits in modern socie­ty and work style. We want to chan­ge this.

Even if the par­ents among us might feel embarr­as­sed rea­ding some parts of Dri­ve (“If you don’t clean up your room, you won’t be watching You­Tube today!”), the book is very easy to read and gives many examp­les of how to crea­te a moti­vat­ing envi­ron­ment both pro­fes­sio­nal­ly and pri­va­te­ly. And we like that. That is why we stron­gly recom­mend that you read it!


Main takea­ways

  1. Socie­ty and the world of work are mas­si­ve­ly chan­ging, and our under­stan­ding of lea­ders­hip urgent­ly needs to fol­low suit.
  2. The keys to moti­va­ti­on: auto­no­my, com­pe­tence and belon­ging through pur­po­se.
  3. Intrinsic moti­va­ti­on always beats extrinsic moti­va­ti­on.
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