Book Recollection: Drive

PHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww!  That, my friends, is a huge sigh of relaxing relief.  It has been a fairly hectic 4 weeks or so for us starting with the TDAA Nationals (link here), then the annual Halloween party, followed by our vacation to the West and yesterday was my oldest Nephew’s wedding.  All these events kept us moving pretty fast getting all the required tasks done in time.  Surprisingly, I think everything turned out great, but we’ll enjoy the couple of weeks downtime until prepping for Thanksgiving.  Before I forget:

Congratulations to Jeff and Ally!  Best wishes for a wonderful life together.  Thanks for letting us share in your special day and experience the happiness evident throughout the day.

With that said it’s post time.  I did start working on the vacation pictures, but there are still gigs and gigs of images to postprocess (and one or two of them don’t look that bad – ha).  Rather than wait until that effort is completed, I’m going with a recollection from a book completed just before heading out on vacation.  This book is Drive by Daniel H. Pink.  Drive was gaining some interest among my company’s upper management and it is always advantageous to understand what might be “driving” (golf clap) their decision process.  As an added bonus, the topic of this book personally interested me.  Along the lines of other human behavior books in my reading history (links here),  Drive focused on what motivates people to accomplish something.  What are the current day ingredients that gets a worker out of bed and excited to make a difference in the work day?  Is it money?.. is it our undying devotion to the corporate mantra?.. or something in between?   According to Daniel, the times have changed and the old philosophies to a productive team have changed, making way for Motivation 3.0.

Drive was actually a quick read and clearly hit home in some areas based on the extent of my takeaways.  Do I think it is a universal explanation of what motivates all people in the corporate world.. nah, but I think it does explain how to encourage and manage people who truly enjoy what they do, are self motivated and deliverable oriented.   I think to dismiss carrot and stick motivation techniques is a dangerous game especially if the last workforce management consultant already got that concept entrenched.  However, there is nothing more fulfilling than successfully deliver on a service/product where you are given the responsibility  along with the decision rights to make that happen.  Flow is a definite reality as mentioned in the takeaways below.  The more challenging and less prescriptive the task the greater chance in entering the flow – which by my definition is simply losing track of time due to complete engagement on a problem – a pinnacle of performance in any company.

I guess at the core of the book is to demonstrate why risk/reward .. carrot and stick, if you will .. fails in today’s corporate world.  He sums this up in 7 flaws; extinguish intrinsic motivation, diminish performance, crush creativity, crowd out good behavior, encourage shortcuts/cheating/unethical behavior, becomes addictive and fosters short term thinking.  If you are a manager, you might become quite concerned after reading that.  What I can’t decide for myself is if it is really carrot and stick that is at the root of these negatives are rather how it is applied.  Other than my dogs (or that hilarious Big Bang Theory episode with Penny and chocolate), I don’t know many people who want someone dispensing a piece of candy every time they hit send on their Microsoft project updates.  However, given a well crafted SMART goal (as something to strive for, difficult to create though) the reward side of that could have a card in the game.

So give it a read and try to internalize it… if nothing else, you will gain some insights if changes start happening in your reward system. Oh, and kudos to the author for giving a “Recap” section at the end of the book that highlighted the key concepts from his perspective complete with tweet and elevator stories.  This helped sink some of my main takeaways.

Hit the jump for my takeaways:

  • Studies of monkeys provided a theory on a third drive – the performance of the task providing an intrinsic reward.
  • Experiments showed that when money is used as an external reward for an activity, the subjects lost intrinsic interest in the activity.  This resonates with me personally, but not sure if this is true in the case where money is a key issue for an individual – does having to stress about providing for your family  drive one to laser focus on their activity – to be the best in order to keep the job and drive the circle?
  • Daniel informs us that pay for performance (STIP if you will) doesn’t work – and you wonder why I read what our management is reading
  • Microsoft Encarta (a product of paid workers) fell at the hands of Wikipedia (a product of non-paid enthusiasts)
  • Motivation 1.0 – the drive to survive – food/water/companionship… xbox
  • Motivation 2.0 – the drive to seek reward and avoid punishment.  For example, the internal push to immediately turn off anything from Metallica (the pain) vs the soothing tones of the Stones.  On the work front, this led to relaxed dress codes and flex time (YES!)
  • Open Source is the most powerful new business model of the 21st century.  The driver… the desire to give a gift to the programming community – Sigh.. this beaten horse again
  • A study showed that how creative a person feels when working on the project is the strongest and most pervasive driver.  This is a difficult one – in a corporate environment, how do you foster creativity yet keep frameworks and architecture principles in place?
  • Publicly held company manager’s overriding responsibility – maximize shareholder gain – amen!
  • He referenced the classic Altruism Experiment – you have money and must decide how much to give to another (I have actually been round and round with this behavioral pattern ever since seeing it in psychology classes in college.)  Check it out on the web if you haven’t seen it before – not sure of the real name, but if you search for psychology study altruism money it should return you something.
  • Sounds like I need to pick up Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  • 30% of job growth in US comes from algorithmic work – take heed new students in the programming fields
  • 70% of job growth in US comes from artistic/empathic/nonroutine work because it cannot be outsourced.. and thus motivation 2.0 can actually impair performance in this field – Polly want a cracker?
  • Companies flattening their organization (ie ALL) need self motivated people
  • Mark Twain determined Work is what the body is obliged to do, Play is what the body is not obliged to do – think Tom Sawyer – rewards therefore have the ability to transform an interesting task into drudge
  • Studies show tangible rewards tend to have a substantially negative effect on intrinsic motivation… but it does have value on algorithmic (repetitive, non creative) type jobs
  • Motivation 2.0 can drive to worse/riskier decision making and thus a key tool for Casinos (ouch)
  • Goals can cause short sightedness at the expense of long term effectiveness – let’s keep the goals SMART people
  • An extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete – this is my personal approach to rewarding my coworkers – focus on praise and positive feedback
  • SDT – Self-Determination Theory – fulfill competency, autonomy and relatedness and we are motivated
  • Type A – Type B – if you are in the corporate world you now that this is thanks to Meyer Friedman – want to live longer.. become more like a B
  • Type I (intrinsic) behavior is made not born and doesn’t disdain money/recognition, self directed.. hello Mr. I
  • ROWE – results only work environment or as I like to say Deliverables Focused – originating out of Best Buy
  • Type I behavior requires – 4T’s or control over task, time, technique and team – good luck on the team part of that
  • Talks about the Google concept of allowing their employees to spend 20% of their time on side projects – of course they are the ones who just killed GoogleReader so they are no longer on my favorites list
  • He used a metaphor of not having control of your team to being the Third Child (there you go!)
  • According to Gallup 50% of employees not engaged and 20% actively disengaged – then again Gallup thinks you’re success at management is predetermined at 5 so we’ll just dismiss their opinion
  • The flow – a totally absorbed state of mind – this is very noticeable at work with one simple test – do you know how much time is left in the work  day?
  • What people believe shapes what people achieve – totally agree with this – a positive mindset is a fundamental key to success.  I know I can complete a half marathon, I know I can pass my black belt tests, I know…
  • I liked this quote from Robert Reich: “Figure out for yourself what you want to be really good at, know that you’ll never really satisfy yourself that you’ve made it, and accept that that’s okay” – might have to put that on my wall
  • They vs We when it comes to company reference – I tested this once but I’ll keep the details to myself
  • Clare Boothe Luce (first woman in US Congress) “A great man is one sentence”  – what is your sentence?   (I run, therefore I am)
  • At the end of each day – “Were you better today than you were yesterday” – what an excellent question
  • Our best moments are when your body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile – this is exactly why I can’t just sit and watch TV
  • Recommends if we are discussing employee performance to ask ourselves if we have committed ourselves to something worthy of their initiative, imagination and passion

2 thoughts on “Book Recollection: Drive”

  1. Why do I suspect that after Clare Boothe Luce said “A great man is one sentence” that she muttered to herself, “A great woman is a book.”

    Speaking of motivation, here’s a pet peeve of mine in the workplace: the bring-your-lunch-to-the-conference-room-for-training-that-we-won’t-pay-for mentality, or better yet, the one where I used to work: bring-your-lunch-to-a-special-weekly-group-communication-session-with-your-manager-that-will-be-on-your-own-time-how-thoughtful-of-us.

    But we can go on about the workplace, and this is probably not the best forum for doing that.

    I like the Reich quote. At some point in our lives, everyone including the very renowned have to accept the fact that they have limits, and as he says, that’s OK. If you’ve reached the limit of your expectations there’s nothing to look forward to.

    Thanks for the review. That was a much more interesting book than I thought it would be.



    1. I think my sentence will be – “At least he wasn’t Clare Boothe Luce” It is both mysterious and multifaceted. Am I glad because I like being a man, or do I prefer to live in my current timeframe or did she do something really horrible that tarnished her name. One will never know but forever wonder! I’ll have to pass on the workplace comments for obvious reasons, but I will say there needs to be a serious study on motivating workers to get their meetings DONE in a specified time and by DONE I mean you don’t go beyond the time and there are NO additional meetings as a result.

      The problem with the Reich quote is puts a lot of stress on me to figure out what I want to be really good at. My passion is to continually challenge myself to produce on an expansion of an idea usually sparked by someone else – just call me the BASF of the idea world. I’ll see something clever on the net or media and put gears in motion to see what I can do with it. It will likely never be as good as the originator, but I am usually happy with the results based on the effort I put into it – so in essence I don’t know what I want to be really good at (beyond my occupation of course), but I am willing to accept the results if I agree I put my best effort into it.

      I thought it was a worthwhile read – glad you found some use out of the review!


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