Saturday, March 10, 2012
One of the very best books I read in 2011 was Daniel Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. In a nutshell, Pink (who was trained as a lawyer but never practiced law) marshals a huge amount of social science and brain science research to demonstrate that we human beings--actually primates as a group-- have a deep, abiding desire to perform work that has its own intrinsic value.
Pink argues that this fact has special salience to a world that rapidly transitioning to a knowledge-based economy. Pink cites to literature showing that economic incentives work well for low-complexity repetitive task (e.g., piece work in a factory, selling cars, waiting tables, etc.). He then presents compelling evidence that performance and creativity in a variety of higher complexity domains--the domains rising in importance in our economy--can often be stifled by management practices that place undue weight on monetary rewards. At several points in the book, Pink singles out lawyers as a profession that is making itself miserable and creatively brainblocked by clinging to the billable hour.
If you want to get the Cliff Notes version of Drive, just watch this wonderfully produced video, which cleverly summarizes the book's central argument along with supporting evidence.
[posted by Bill Henderson]