Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us's notes, summary and lessons

By Daniel Pink

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  • Societies also have operating systems. The laws, social customs, and economic arrangements that we encounter each day sit atop a layer of instructions, protocols, and suppositions about how the world works. And much of our societal operating system consists of a set of assumptions about human behavior.

    Page: 16
  • For as long as any of us can remember, we’ve configured our organizations and constructed our lives around its bedrock assumption: The way to improve performance, increase productivity, and encourage excellence is to reward the good and punish the bad.

    Page: 17
  • As organizations flatten, companies need people who are self-motivated. That forces many organizations to become more like, er, Wikipedia. Nobody manages the Wikipedians. Nobody sits around trying to figure out how to motivate them. That’s why Wikipedia works. Routine, not-so-interesting jobs require direction; non-routine, more interesting work depends on self-direction. One business leader, who didn’t want to be identified, said it plainly. When he conducts job interviews, he tells prospective employees: If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you.

    Page: 30
  • Instead of restraining negative behaviour, rewards and punishments can often set it loose - and give rise to cheating, addiction and dangerously myopic thinking.

    Page: 33
  • The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.

    Page: 33
  • Amabile and others have found that extrinsic rewards can be effective for algorithmic tasks—those that depend on following an existing formula to its logical conclusion. But for more right-brain undertakings— those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness, or conceptual understanding—contingent rewards can be dangerous.

    Page: 44
  • When the reward is the activity itself—deepening learning, delighting customers, doing one’s best—there are no shortcuts. The only route to the destination is the high road. In some sense, it’s impossible to act unethically because the person who’s disadvantaged isn’t a competitor but yourself.

    Page: 49
  • By offering a reward, a principal signals to the agent that the task is undesirable. (If the task were desirable, the agent wouldn’t need a prod.) But that initial signal, and the reward that goes with it, forces the principal onto a path that’s difficult to leave. Offer too small a reward and the agent won’t comply. But offer a reward that’s enticing enough to get the agent to act the first time, and the principal “is doomed to give it again in the second.” There’s no going back.

    Page: 52
  • This is the nature of economic bubbles: What seems to be irrational exuberance is ultimately a bad case of extrinsically motivated myopia

    Page: 56
  • [...] the first question you should ask when contemplating external motivators: Is the task at hand routine? That is, does accomplishing it require following a prescribed set of rules to a specified end? For routine tasks, which aren't very interesting and don't demand much creative thinking, rewards can provide a small motivational booster shot without the harmful side effects.

    Page: 60
  • Intrinsically motivated people usually achieve more than their reward –seeking counterparts. Alas, that is not always true in the short term. An intense focus on extrinsic can deliver fast results. The trouble is, the approach is difficult to sustain. And it doesn’t assist in mastery-which is the source of achievement over the long haul.

    Page: 76
  • The course of human history has always moved in the direction of greater freedom. And there’s a reason for that—because it’s in our nature to push for it.

    Page: 106
  • The highest, most satisfying experiences in people's lives where when they were in flow. In flow, goals are clear. Feedback is immediate. Most important, in flow, the relationship between what a person had to do and what he could do was perfect.

    Page: 112
  • One source of frustration in the workplace is the frequent mismatch between what people must do and what people can do. When what they must do exceeds their capabilities, the result is anxiety. When what they must do falls short of their capabilities, the result is boredom. But when the match is just right, the results can be glorious. This is the essence of flow.

    Page: 117
  • This is the nature of mastery: Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really, really close to it. But like Cézanne, you can never touch it.

    Page: 125
  • Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.

    Page: 131
  • Many entrepreneurs, executives, and investors are realizing that the best performing companies stand for something and contribute to the world. This is the final big distinction between the two operating systems. Motivation 2.0 centered on profit maximization. Motivation 3.0 doesn’t reject profits, but it places equal emphasis on purpose maximization.

    Page: 133
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