Drive | Book Review

Daniel Pink’s Drive is a powerful book which captures decades of scientific findings regarding motivation, reminds us that few businesses have actually put these results to use, and challenges us as leaders to transform our point of view and our organizations. A quirky and provocative video summary of Drive may be downloaded here and convincingly argues autonomy, mastery and purpose as elemental motivators. This review focuses on the part of the book not captured in the video, and the application section of the book called the Type I Toolkit.

A Suggested Start

Pages 218-223 comprise Drive: The Recap, a succinct summary helpful in selecting which chapters of the book may hold more appeal and a useful reference (especially the Twitter and Cocktail Party summaries).

After summarizing key research findings (such as Theory X and Theory Y or Type A and Type B behavior), Pink introduces Type I and Type X behaviors in Chapter 3 (page 75). We can relate these behaviors to our E2L Profiles. For example, Type I behaviors are fueled by intrinsic desires, or the instinctive E2L dimension, while Type X behaviors are fueled by (classical) extrinsic desires. Pink calls the human operating system (page 16) based on seeing and rewarding punishment (or carrots & sticks) Motivation 2.0, an analogy to computer operating systems. Out challenge then is to cultivate Type I behavior via a newer Motivation 3.0 operating system.

 How We May Apply Type I Behaviors

Part Three, The Type I Toolkit, contains a variety of strategies and ideas for putting Motivation 3.0 to work.


On pages 153-161, Pink offers nine strategies for activating our personal motivation. The first and sixth really stand out. First, understand what activities contribute to our “flow” state (see Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiS) and then protect our flow states with a “to don’t” list, or behaviors and practices (idea from Tom Peters) that pull down our energy levels and distract us. For several years, I have called out “energy loss alerts” when encountering people or events sucking away at my energy or positive attitude. Pages 216 & 217 apply Type I tips to personal fitness, a wonderful example of creating Motivation 3.0 lifetime habits.

For Organizations

Pages 162-177 contain thirteen excellent ideas for any organization; keeping in mind not all of us can effect our entire environment. The first idea, Carve out Time for Noncommissioned Work: The Big Idea, reminds us of Steven Covey’s Category II, Important Not Urgent quadrant. If we don’t create a safe and regular environment for big ideas, then we probably won’t have any (see interesting aside on pages 96-98 why attorneys are so miserable). Ideas nine and ten are wonderful. Many people use pronouns to disassociate themselves from organizations (Robert Reich’s idea nine), and we should listen for these clues. Idea ten (page 172), Design for the 85 Percent, suggests many organizational policies are compliance based “so a small group of losers won’t abuse the system” rather than unleashing the majority of performers who don’t need someone watching over their shoulders. Terrific.


Kudos to Pink for (pages 197-215) listing fifteen essential books both for deeper background (e.g. Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation) or contemporary ideas of success (e.g. Outliers).

JE | December 2014