Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, Oh My!

Dan Pink’s new book, Drive brings together 50 years of research, and 25 years of practical experience from companies that have been using these ideas successfully and profitably.  He says that economists and psychologists agree: carrots and sticks are only good for a very narrow band of tasks, ones that don’t require creativity.  As soon as a creative task is tied to a reward or punishment, it will most likely have a long term negative effect on that task.

These ideas are not new to the world, but it’s the first time anyone has brought them all together in one place and made them easy to understand.  Part One – A New Operating System talks about the failure of carrots and sticks and the special cases they do work in, the differences between people who are intrinsically motivated, Type I and extrinsically motivated, Type E and starts with the history of motivation.  Part Two – The Three Elements talks about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.  “(1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”  Part Three – The Type I Toolkit, is dedicated to helping us learn more about these topics and on how to integrate them. 

I continue to find this book a source of inspiration.  It’s well written and easy to read, it’s meant to be a seed, rather than a tree, but it’s a seed that once planted in the fertile ground of our minds, takes root.   The Type I Toolkit, tells us how to water and fertilize our seed, the booklist is particularly helpful. 

I’ve listened to the audio book and read both the ebook and the print version.  The audio book is masterfully read by Dan Pink, the other versions are easy on the eyes and have illustrative pictures and quotes.  Whichever version you pick, you’ll be pleased.