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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink

28th March 2021
drive book cover


Drive is a book about motivation. The author wants to close the gap between what science knows and what business does. I would like to find out the motivating factors that the author shows in this book.


Daniel H. Pink is an American author with 6 books under his belt. He was a host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a television series about human behavior on the National Geographic Channel. He also served as the chief speechwriter for Al Gore from 1995 to 1997.


Drive has an introduction, 7 chapters, a toolkit, and a recap. The book is organized into 3 parts.

Part One is A New Operating System and contains 4 chapters. These chapters are 1) The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2.0, 2) Seven Reasons Carrots and Sticks (Often) Don’t Work…, 2 A) … and the Special Circumstances When They Do, and 3) Type I and Type X.

Part Two is The Three Elements with 3 chapters: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Part Three is The Type I Toolkit. It contains 7 guides that will help us to put the ideas in the book into action.

It also has the Drive Discussion Guide: Twenty Conversation Starters to Keep You Thinking and Talking at the end of the book.


According to the author, there are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Each work for different types of tasks. Extrinsic motivation works for algorithmic/routine tasks while intrinsic motivation works for artistic, empathic, nonroutine work.

Let me show you the definition of the two different types of work. The first is known as algorithmic work which follows a set path. The second is known as heuristic task, meaning breaking from the path to discover a new strategy. We can simplify them into routine or nonroutine work. Routine jobs require direction; nonroutine work depends on self-direction.

Extrinsic motivation is generally inferior to intrinsic motivation. The reason is when we make extrinsic reward the only destination, some people will choose the quickest route there (sometimes low road). The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. Thus, do not use extrinsic reward (“if-then”) to enforce compliance because you will likely have to increase the payment to continue compliance.

Does it mean that we should not give out any extrinsic reward? No. The solution is any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete.

I will summarize the author’s advice on using rewards for the 2 categories of task.

If the task is routine, offer “if-then” rewards, but also offer rationale for why the task is necessary, acknowledge that the task is boring, and allow people to complete the task in their own way.

If the task is heuristic, build an environment that pays people fairly and that fosters autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Avoid “if-then” rewards but consider unexpected, noncontingent “now that” rewards. These rewards should offer praise and feedback, provide useful information rather than an attempt to control.

The author mentions about third drive – our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to make a contribution. Our behaviours can also be divided Type I and Type X. Type I concerns less with external rewards and more with the inherent satisfaction of the activity and is the behaviour that the author highly recommends.

Type I behaviour has 3 requirements: autonomy (in task, time, technique and team), mastery (which is a mindset, a pain, and an asymptote), and purpose (in goals that use profit to reach purpose, in words that emphasizes more than self-interest, and in policies that allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms).

Overall, Drive is a good book that makes us rethink about the motivating factors. We should bring out Type I behaviour in people, instead of relying on extrinsic rewards alone. Complying can be an effective strategy for physical survival, but a lousy one for personal fulfillment. There is one thing that I think is especially true in this book: one way to know whether you have mastered something is to try to teach it.

If you want a quick summary of the book, you can find it in Part Three.


  1. This is the nature of economic bubbles: What seems to be irrational exuberance is ultimately a bad case of extrinsically motivated myopia.
  2. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.
  3. Mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.
  4. Humanize what people say and you may well humanize what they do.
  5. Unlearning old ideas is difficult, undoing old habits even harder.


3 out of 3 stars

Interested in Drive?

You may get the book from through the link below*.

Get the print book from Kinokuniya Malaysia here

*Disclosure: The above link is an affiliate link. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through the link.

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