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Book Review: Drive (Aug. 2011)

Ethics Matters – August 2011

Good Reads

In Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, author Daniel H. Pink provides a new paradigm for motivation and provides solid evidence why our old models don’t work in today’s environment. ┬áTraditional concept of motivating employees was to increase pay or include a bonus – often known as "if-then" management. Over and over, Pink debunks this theory and even depicts how it can lead to unethical behavior when used to set too-specific goals. Such extrinsic goal setting often leads to choosing the quickest route, not the best: Sears imposed a sales quota among auto repair staff and workers began completing unnecessary repairs; Ford rushed to complete a car by a certain date, omits safety checks and releases the unforgettable Pinto fiasco. Enron set’s high revenue goals, and well, you know how that ends. Pink espouses that, "…when the reward is the activity itself – deepening learning, delighting customers, doing one’s best – there are no shortcuts."

What makes Drive such a fine read are the chapters and deep explanation on how to motivate today’s work force, along with the why such concepts work. Pink tells us once the base salary is met, adding additional dollars doesn’t motivate someone or make them happier. People will be motivated and happier with autonomy, mastery and purpose. Reading about the various models used by innovative, highly successful companies that have already realized that money isn’t always the answer is the most fun part of the book. 3M’s technical staff is permitted to spend 15 percent of their time on any project they would like, which was when scientist Art Fry developed the Post-it. Today there are more than 600 Post-it products.

Pink also provides a very solid toolkit most every manager can use to implement some of his ideas into his or her workplace.