I’ve been on a bit of a non fiction kick of late, but been a little slow about getting reviews up. A month or so ago I finished Drive: The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us, which I quite enjoyed.
The book, surprise, is about motivation. But what it’s really about is the fact that the Baby Boomer theory of motivation, which was pay people more money for more output, only really works for rote work. When people are engaged in creative work, not only does it not actually help with motivation, but it can actually damage quality and quantity of output. How and why it damages people’s work is the bulk of the book, and it comes down to external motivation crush internal motivation. Once internal motivation is gone, getting it back is really hard.
Some guidelines come out of the book, which are handy all by themselves. If you are in a field where creativity matters, pay people enough that money isn’t their main concern. Enough is defined as 10% above the average in your industry. Give them 20% time. This is something Google made famous, where in all employees get to spend some work time on a personal pet project. Also, shift rewards and recognition to after the fact surprises, instead of putting it on the table before the task at hand.
In my past 8 years as a team lead at IBM I’ve seen a lot of different management and leadship styles, and a lot of the ideas in this book were familiar. It was still handy to have it all bundled up in such a concise way, and worth the couple of evenings it took to read.