Just finished Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, so it’s time for a quick spewing of my thoughts.

The author separates people into two types: Type I and Type X. Type I folks are the ones who are motivated internally, by a drive to get better at whatever they do. Type X folks are the ones who are motivated externally, using things like rewards, pay, recognition, etc. Open source developers, for the most part, have to be Type I, as they aren’t getting many external rewards for their work. Donald Trump, on the other hand, it totally Type X, and is only motivated by money, power, or recognition. (He was actually the example in the book, before he ever became President.)

Historically, businesses have motivated people via pay, bonuses, promotions, and the like. External motivators, it was thought, is what kept people working hard. In the new economy, though, for creative or information workers, this type of reward simply doesn’t work. The science is there to show that this is the case…it’s not just some idea.

For a graphic designer, for instance, getting to work on the art is actually a reward in itself. If you strip away all of the management BS and pay the designer a fair wage, he/she will be happy just to be able to do design work all the time. The same is very true with programmers. They just want to be left alone to do their work, and they do not need carrots put in front of them to be productive. They just enjoy it.

There are three main things Type I organizations need to supply:

  1. Autonomy: Let people manage themselves and their own work.
  2. Mastery: Let people do what they do and provide them with the time and tools necessary to truly become masters of their work.
  3. Purpose: Work must be toward a greater purpose. Just making budget doesn’t cut it.

The final idea of this book is what is called “flow”. Flow is basically that moment where you are doing something that you enjoy and the time passes without you even noticing. It could be when someone gets zoned in on a spreadsheet, or reading a book, or whatever…

The best way to motivate a workforce, therefore, is to get everyone into what they enjoy, pay a fair wage, and let them get into their flow as often as possible. Makes sense.

So why is this on Holub’s reading list? Well, these are exactly the things an Agile organization strives for. Agile prescribes that the teams manage themselves. Managers, if they exist, are there specifically to empower the team to do their work better and help the individuals become masters in their areas of expertise. And the purpose of their work is to make the product better.

Very interesting concepts. Everyone should read it. That’s all I have.

Written on December 14, 2017