Drive by Daniel Pink

This looks like a book, but its an ad for the guy who’s going to talk at your next off-site. Welcome to the Motivational Operating System and it’s “sets of assumptions and protocols about how the world works that run beneath our laws, economic arrangements and business practices.” It is called an operating system rather than a ‘common sense’ because the language of IT lends credibility to a non-science of social behavior. Also and because it is an “operating system” it can be tweaked, and Pink is here to tweak it.

With “autonomy boosts” — because the language of nutritional energy drinks turns a boring moral notion something measurable, blendible and drinkable. Boosts have an immediate effect. They make it to possible to increase “flow” which describes something in between enlightenment and a serotonin fry-up. “Flow” resonates both eco- and ego-culture, it sounds liquid and monetary and vaguely green. And very credible, from the Latin credo, lending itself to belief, and credit.

What becomes clearer and clearer in Pink’s ad is the generation gap between operating systems. The generation hiring believes that labour is and should be unpleasant, while the generation they are hiring believes that labour should flow, feel good, and produce something monetary and vaguely green.

Sometimes Pink is here to play Nanny: the next generation of Americans needs to be given “Goldilocks Tasks” — tasks that are neither too challenging nor too boring, pre-packaged, and served with a straw. A kind of Jobucino. Sometimes he simply proclaims, with that relentless enthusiasm born of sun and Mexican labour, what companies need to do to keep their employees happy.