Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

A few years ago, I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink and was quite intrigued by cultivating my right-brain, creative side.  It’s hard to outsource creativity.  (Read my posts here about that book.)  So, when Pink published Drive, of course I wanted to read it!  What motivates people?  According to Pink, in most cases money isn’t the motivator!  How can we use these studies to motivate ourselves and our students? 
  • Work these days is heuristic and not algorithmic; meaning it’s less routine and more creative.
  • People want to direct their own work and be more self-direct rather than rely on a management hierarchy.
  • Rewarding work (the carrot and the stick)
    • Contingent rewards (if-then), yield poor results
      • For the short term, you might see a boost, but for the long term it worsens
      • Contingent rewards are not for creative work; it actually stifles creativity by narrowing the focus
      • Giving a reward may signal the task is undesirable
      • If you reward a task once, you have to reward always and may even have to increase reward
    • Now-that rewards keep creativity because you aren’t telling people up front that there’s a reward
      • Non-tangible rewards are best in a now-that scenario. 
      • Consider praise and/or specific feedback as a reward.
  • Employees (and students?) want autonomy over the Four Ts (Chapter 4)
    • Task – What to do
    • Time – How/when to spend time
    • Technique – How to complete task
    • Team – With whom to work
    • This would be pretty easy to do in a classroom – Can we say Readers’-Writers’ Workshop?!
  • Consider a Results Only Work Environment (R.O.W.E.) a la` Best Buy.  Doesn’t matter how/when you do it, as long as it gets done well.
  • 20% time a la` Google – Employees choose how to spend 20% of their work time.  They choose which work-related projects to pursue.  This 20% time at Google led to Gmail, Google Talk and Google News, among others.  If 20% is too big a place to start, think about 10% or one afternoon per month.  I can definitely see classroom implications for this!
  • Mastery is a mindset (Carol Dweck) (Chapter 5)
    • When setting goals, set learning goals instead of achievement goals.  Achievement goals tend to be too narrow and folks could do more.
    • Mastery is hard and takes grit/determination/perseverance.
    • Mastery takes deliberate practice, but most people want to get better.
  • Purpose versus profit. (Chapter 6)
    • People are more motivated by having a purpose.
    • People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
    • Am I better today than I was yesterday?

 I see some educational implications of this book, like allowing students choice of assignments, choice of groups/team, etc.  I was also glad to see Dweck’s growth mindset cited.  Intelligence isn’t fixed and with hard work and dedication, one can grow.  We can hold ALL students to high standards.  While I don’t think this book is the end-all, be-all, he does make some good points to consider.

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