Friday, January 8, 2010

Why Carrots and Sticks Are Suddenly Passe

Daniel Pink’s just-published book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Riverhead Books) is beginning to get some attention. Credit the former Al Gore speechwriter (and author of the bestselling A Whole New Mind) with leveling a blow at “pay for performance” schemes at the precise moment when big bonuses are sooooooo unfashionable. Pink says that, provided people have a baseline level of pay, what really moves them toward high levels of performance are such factors as autonomy on the job, mastery over a craft, and a sense of contributing to a higher purpose.

Stanford B-school professor Robert Sutton believes Pink “does a masterful job of showing the limits and drawbacks of widely accepted assumptions about motivation--showing the limits of carrots and sticks.” (To read Sutton’s comments, go to:

On The Wall Street Journal’s website, Barbara Chai quotes Pink as recommending that people look for personal motivation--their “third drive”—by considering things they do for fun. “Think about whether you can make a living doing that,” says Pink. “It’s more possible than people think.” (Go to

My own take is recorded today on the website at

An NPR “Talk of the Nation” spot with Pink can be heard at:

As I cast about for further writing gigs, let me offer a New Year’s wish that baseline pay doesn’t become passé. A Los Angeles Times article details the woeful situation now facing freelance writers:,0,2787168.column

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