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Daniel Pink makes a reasonable case for a more humane business environment. The keystone of his approach is Autonomy: people need autonomy (the ability to choose what they do, when they do it, how they do it, and who they do it with); and the more they have, the more productive they can be. More importantly, the usual approach of giving bonuses and other rewards for meeting prescribed goals can actually undermine autonomy, and thus productivity, over the long term. Pink cites a number of ingenious experiments that have demonstrated the negative effect of rewards in many situations.
It's not all about autonomy, though. According to Pink, people also need Mastery and Purpose. In other words, they like to get better at doing something that matters. Much of Pink's book is an exploration of ways that people have re-engineered work environments to make those needs easier to meet.
He closes the book with a long chapter on recommendations for change; but as in most books of this type, they are more pep talk than blueprint. Pink describes management in general as being an outmoded technology, but the successes he describes only happened because management gave the new approach their full support.
One aspect of the book I found particularly puzzling. Much of his argument is based on the work of psychologists Edward Deci and Robert Ryan, who propose three basic human needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Mastery is a bit like competence; but what happened to relatedness? It seems to me that could have as big an impact on productivity as anything else.
54 of 55 people found this review helpful
I usually love Daniel Pink's work, but this was tired and repetitive. I find he is insightful and typically puts an original twist on common wisdom. He missed the mark on this one. He used the same formula of his past successes but this one felt like a 50-100 page concept stretched out into a 200 pager to keep publishers happy. I would put the concepts in A Whole New Mind on par with the best works of Malcom Gladwell, Steven Levitt and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This is recycled, repetitive and doesn't come close to his best.
53 of 54 people found this review helpful