On Drive

I recently finished the book Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – by Daniel H. Pink. As the title indicates, this book is about what motivates us to perform and the evolution of the underlying motivations as time progressed. The main concept introduced by Daniel is what he calls “the Motivational Operating Systems”. In his own words these are “the sets of assumptions and protocols about how the world works and how humans behave, that run beneath our laws, economic arrangements, and business practices.” The author then goes on to explain the progression of this operating system: “Motivation 1.0 presumed that humans were biological creatures, struggling for survival. Motivation 2.0 presumed that humans also responded to rewards and punishments in their environment. Motivation 3.0, the upgrade we now need, presumes that humans also have a third drive – to learn, to create, and to better the world.”

Despite the upgrade in the underlying motivational operating systems, Daniel argues that “most business haven’t caught up to this new understanding of what motivates us. Too many organizations…still operate from assumptions about human potential and individual performance that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science. They continue to pursue practices such as short-term incentive plans and pay-for-performance schemes in the face of mounting evidence that such measures usually don’t work and often do harm”

A very insightful read on human behavior/motivation backed by years of scientific research. The book not only presents the concepts but also presents to us what its implications are from a management and leadership standpoint. Another great feature of the book is the summary and glossary of terms at the end. They serve as a great reference/refresher. A recommended read!

Below are some excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Carrots and Sticks: The Seven Deadly Flaws – 1) They can extinguish intrinsic motivation. 2) They can diminish performance. 3) They can crush creativity. 4) They can crowd out good behavior. 5) They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior. 6) They can become addictive. 7) They can foster short-term thinking.”

2- “…For creative, right-brain, heuristic tasks, you’re on shaky ground offering “if-then” rewards. You’re better off using “now that” rewards. And you’re best off if your “now that” rewards provide praise, feedback, and useful information.”

3- “…Type I behavior emerges when people have autonomy over the four T’s: their task, their time, their technique, and their team.”

4- “The first two legs of the Type I tripod, autonomy and mastery, are essential. But for proper balance we need a third leg – purpose, which provides a context for its two mates. Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people – not to mention those are most productive and satisfied – hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.”

5- “Motivation 2.0 centered on profit maximization. Motivation 3.0 doesn’t reject profits, but it places equal emphasis on purpose maximization.”

6- “So, in the end, repairing the mismatch and bringing our understanding of motivation into the twenty-first century is more than an essential move for business. It’s an affirmation of our humanity.”

7- “When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system – which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators – doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

8- “Type I behavior: A way of thinking and an approach to life built around intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivators. IT is powered by our innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Type X behavior: Behavior that is fueled more by extrinsic  desires than intrinsic ones that concerns itself less with the inherent satisfaction of an activity and more with the external rewards to which that activity leads.”


Omar Halabieh





  1. This sounds like a book I’d be interested in reading. I really enjoy exploring the human psyche behind what makes people both successful and love what they do for a living. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but I also really like the book “The Go Getter.” A quick read, but really insightful.

  2. Wow!, this was a top quality post. In theory Id like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article but what can I say I keep putting it off and never seem to get something done

  3. Thank you for an additional terrific write-up. Exactly where else could anyone get that kind of details in this kind of a ideal way of writing? Ive a presentation subsequent week, and Im to the appear for this kind of information and facts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s