• Nancy Beers

HAPPY SCRUM MASTER BOOKLIST: Drive – Daniel H. Pink

Reading is very important to me so I’m always on the look-out for a good book. Last year, I challenged you to try Xtrem Reading because it’s the perfect way to help you identify those books out of the many books available that are actually worth your time. And, oh man, there are sooooo many good books out there. So this year, I’m challenging myself: I’m going to read one book per week. Yes, that’s right, one book each and every week for an entire year. I wouldn’t be the Happy Scrum Master if I didn’t share not only my favourite games but also my favourite books with you.

This month’s favourite is: Drive by Daniel H. Pink.

This is my second blog about one of Daniel’s books. He’s definitely one of my heroes. Drive was published in 2009, so it’s an oldie but a goody. I consider this book to be one of my Bibles because, as a coach, I can apply it on an individual level, team level and organisational level. What I’ve learnt is that when something’s wrong within an organisation it probably has to do with one of the three central themes Daniel describes in this book: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

In ‘Drive’ he explains why most businesses today are taking the wrong approach to motivating their employees and what they should be doing instead. Because, quite frankly, what they’re doing is actually backfiring, most of the time. As one of my other heroes, Dolly Parton, sings in one of her many epic songs: ‘Working 9-5, what a way to make a living, barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving.’ Not very motivational, now is it?


For a long time, it was generally assumed that people only worked to make a living and that punishments and financial rewards were the best way to optimise a company’s productivity. By using this approach, they have created what Daniel calls ‘Type X personality’ employees. Basically, if you’re late you get a pay-cut and if you excel at your job, you get a bonus. That’s it for motivation. But, it turns out, that most people aren’t in it for the money, you see. Money is a necessity, obviously. In fact, having money problems can be paralysing, as I know only too well from personal experience. But as soon as people’s financial needs are met, money becomes less of a motivation. What is more important for most people is to be able to keep growing and evolving and to quote my hero Dolly once more: ‘If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one’. If people feel stuck in their jobs, they will eventually leave.

Based on research and real life cases, Daniel shows that what companies should be fostering is what he has named the ‘Type I personality’. Type I employees are able to work ‘autonomously’, while being able to grow their ‘mastery’ of their chosen skills and by working towards a ‘purpose’ that has more meaning than just making a lot of money for the company’s stakeholders. One of the reasons open source communities are thriving is because they enable people to become this Type I personality instead of Type X-robots. And all that with out getting paid for their efforts, most of the time. It’s also the reason I’m such an Open Source Hippie.

As a coach, I try to address the importance of fostering a Type I personality in all my workshops and trainings. I use the Drive principles Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in one-on-one coaching sessions to help individual employees help see if they’re still on the right track. At team level, I use them to tackle motivation issues and at organisational level, to help establish a company’s purpose. As a person, the book also helped me a lot. My decision to strike out on my own, for instance, had to do with autonomy and I’ve recently decided to enrol in a leadership programme in order to improve my mastery and become a better and more authentic leader. All this to realise my purpose: bringing happiness and playfulness into the world. I’m paving my new road and I absolutely love it!

Daniel’s writing clearly explains why fostering Type I personalities is beneficial for an organisation’s productivity. He explains why his three central themes Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are key and provides a lot of tips, tricks, shortcuts and reading material for people to help them evolve into Type I personalities. Because, yes, it will take some work to turn a company into an environment that’s suited to this type of employee. And it will take some trial and effort for employees to adjust to this new way of working and new found freedom. It’s definitely a process but it will ultimately increase a company’s productivity on so many levels, as Daniel also clearly shows by providing numerous examples of incredibly successful businesses that have adopted the Type I philosophy. It just works, folks!

And for all those managers (and other people) who think this Type I stuff is just too much effort, I’ll leave you with a final quote by the amazing Dolly Parton: ‘The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain’.

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