engineering a better experience
Monday, March 11, 2013 (Updated )

Review: Drive

by The Metaist


(Image: Amazon)


Daniel Pink's Drive highlights several stark differences between what motivation science tells us and how businesses and schools operate in the areas of:

  • Autonomy: choosing what you work on, when you work on it and with whom,

  • Mastery: working towards bettering yourself in some dimension under optimal working conditions, and

  • Purpose: working towards something greater than yourself.

Drive MindMap

(Photo: metaist)



While I was surprised by how much of this book I had already covered in previous posts, there were still a few nuggets I learned along the way.


Pink's arguments for giving people power over tasks, time, and team are cogent. The much-discussed announcement that Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! new CEO, has ended the work-from-home policy only spurs this discussion forward. By contrast, the work environment of Steam suggests that high quality output is entirely possible even when the entire process is in the hands of employees.


Much of this section is devoted to explaining the concept of flow pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It is similar to the idea of a Zone of Proximal Development and consists of keeping people focused on tasks in which immediate feedback lets them know they are on-track to achieve something just beyond their current capabilities.


The desire to sever a purpose or feel useful is not new (just watch a few of the earlier episodes of Downton Abbey). However, Pink argues that the issue of our work serving a higher purpose will come to the fore as the baby boomer generation starts to age and face existential questions of mortality and purpose. While there may be surge in purpose-driven activities, I expect it to come more from the youth whose naivte is likely to drive a desire to make a mark in the world rather than from rich elderly folks who hope to live out their days in stylish comfort knowing that they made it.

Especially interesting in this topic was the rise of the so-called Benefit corporation which seeks to use profits as a means to an end and is equally interested in maximizing social benefit as it is profits.

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