Drive by Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink has a new book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

Pink, as you may know, profiled Jerry Zaltman and ZMET in Fast Company many years ago.

The book is divided into three sections.  Sections 2 and 3 are aimed at managers who are seeking to motivate their employees to do their best work.  And if you are interested in that angle, you will find that useful.  But Part 1 is where he gets into the science behind what motivates people and why – which is of relevance to all marketers.

Pink describes how financial rewards can backfire in certain situations.  When money is used as an extrinsic reward, people can lose their intrinsic interest in an activity – which can lead to lower performance.     If I go into used car sales because I love to sell and I love cars, I can lose my intrinsic motivation if I am forced to meet a monthly sales quota.  And when I lose my intrinsic motivation, my performance is likely to suffer.

Money can have other unintended effects.  A daycare center decided to fine parents for picking up their children late.   Paradoxically, the rate of late pick-ups increased.  The fine shifted parents’ mental frame from a moral obligation (“I don’t want to make these nice people at the day care center wait on me”) to a financial transaction (“I can buy some extra time”).

A lot of counter-intuitive thinking about why people do the things they do.  Good stuff.