The Browne Center

The Drive Discussion Guide #14


The Drive Discussion Guide #14

by Crystie McGrail


On a recent trip I spent many quality hours traveling via a bus, waiting in an airport and finally on a plane and I used this time to read Drive- The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink.  I highly suggest picking up a copy as it is easy to read and has a lot of interesting points on which to reflect.

My reflections today are going to revolve around Question #14 in the Discussion Guide at the end of the book:

“When tackling the routine tasks your job requires, what strategies can you come up with to trigger the positive side of the Sawyer Effect?”


The Sawyer Effect is defined as “Practices that can either turn play into work or turn work into play.”  The positive side of this effect therefore is to turn work into play, something intrinsically motivated and fun!

At a micro-level I consider The Browne Center one of the most flexible and nurturing work places I have ever been a part of and truly believe that it meets Dan’s three elements of providing Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in order to create the best environment for motivation and success.

However, on a macro-level The Browne Center is part of the expansive University System of New Hampshire and as a contributor to such an impressive institution we must adhere to their detailed policies and procedures.  This sometimes means a lot of paperwork.

Paperwork that is not always as intuitive as IKEA furniture.

How can I trigger the positive side of the Sawyer Effect when doing this routine task of paperwork?

Dan shares that routine tasks that are mechanical in nature, or require little thinking, can be positively impacted by external rewards.  In contrast, providing external rewards for tasks that require more cognitive input can be detrimental and actually hinder intrinsic motivation (as a distraction).

Taking that into consideration, some paperwork falls into either of those two categories.  So perhaps when filling out staff hiring paperwork (pretty standard now that they have settled the procedure for I-9’s) I can reward myself for any paperwork that gets accepted without needing modification.

We have a new staff orientation coming up soon so I can put this into action sooner rather than later!

For more complicated paperwork, such as independent contractor agreements, where one is never the same as the next, I will definitely need to set a different goal.  Mastery could be the goal for these as it prompts a greater understanding of both the purchasing system and the service being provided.

Does you work require any routine tasks? 

How can you trigger the positive side of the Sawyer Effect?

The Browne Center has been providing innovative experiential learning programs since the early 1980s. We provide a wide range of programming from comprehensive trainings to shorter one-day sessions. Our learning programs evolve to meet the needs of our clients and our diverse client base allows us to draw upon best practices from a variety of disciplines and remain sensitive to specific needs and outcomes.

Creating a dynamic program based on your group's specific goals is our approach with every single client. We can provide an action-packed program to meet your needs – whether you are coming together as a new group, integrating new members, building positive group relationships, addressing specific behaviors, or striving for performance excellence.