Pink is an engaging writer, and I certainly was entertained by and learned useful things from Drive. It examines the difference between extrinsic motivation (e.g., “I want to earn a million by the the time I’m 35”) and intrinsic motivation (e.g., “I want to be the best criminal lawyer in the state.”), and argues, with considerable support from relevant research, that the latter is more likely to succeed in the knowledge-work-based economy we’re transitioning to. It also makes the case that what Pink calls “Motivation 2.0,” or carrot-and-stick motivation tactics (e.g., “I’ll give you a dollar if you take out the trash,” or “I’ll fine you for late pick-up from daycare”) can be actively harmful in fostering intrinsic motivation. The gotcha here is that many of our business and educational institutions are structured around “Motivation 2.0” approaches; Pink argues that these are outdated and must fundamentally change.
Drive strikes me as a perfectly designed business book. It’s a slim, fast read (it’s substantially padded by a section which essentially recapitulates the book’s content, with some putting-into-practice tips sprinkled in). It invents some new jargon — Motivation 2.0 and 3.0 (Motivation 1.0, if you’re curious, is subsistence-level gotta-survive type stuff) and Type I(ntrinsic) and Type X(trinsic) — in which to frame ideas that have been floating around for a while. Of course there’s a gotcha here as well: implementing many of these concepts requires people in positions of control to give up a lot of it, and they will be threatened by much of what this book proposes. (It does get a little hippy-dippy in places for a biz book, at one point Pink hints that management itself could become an outdated concept.)