Why We Choose To Do What We Do
What drives us to make the choices we make? In Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, two Harvard researchers have compiled some convincing evidence that sheds revealing light on the mysteries of human nature and behavior. Using a scientific foundation, authors Paul R. Lawrence & Nitin Nohria have linked business and evolutionary biology to offer a fascinating look at the way social behavior affects individuals, management, leadership and every organization.
Individuals act as a result of conscious choices, write Lawrence and Nohria. These choices are affected by the interplay of four subconscious drives.
The Drive to Acquire
The first subconscious drive is the drive to acquire things and experiences that improve our status in comparison to others. The impact of this drive - the oldest and most basic human drive - is revealed using two studies of British civil servants that attempted to determine the relationship between the health of these workers and their positions in the Civil Service hierarchy. These studies found that the higher one's rank in the Civil Service, the lower the risk of death at any given age. The authors write, " ... [I]n a world of limited resources, humans who achieve relative success in acquiring have both literally and figuratively better survival prospects."
The Drive to Bond
The second subconscious drive is the drive to bond with other people in lasting relationships of mutual care and commitment.
Bonding applies to every organization and individual, affecting personal morals as well as organizational missions and purposes. This is why companies are perceived as being trustworthy or not, and breaking promises plays an important role in hiring and firing. People identify with and invest their time and efforts in their organizations in the same way they identify with their friends. Humans are also capable of using modern communication technologies to develop positive bonds across vast distances to create a global sense of community with people and organizations.
The Drive to Learn
The third drive behind our actions is the drive to learn and understand the outside world and our inner selves. The innate drive to satisfy curiosity, to know, to comprehend, to believe, to appreciate and to develop understandings is present in all people.
The Drive to Defend
The fourth drive is the drive to defend ourselves, the people we love, our beliefs and the resources we have acquired.
Using the lessons from the field of neuroscience, the authors describe the drive to defend as a drive to protect the things that we have learned about the world and ourselves. It is activated whenever world views or self-images are threatened. Defense mechanisms take the form of verbal arguments, books, mass mediated messages and denial. In its extreme, the drive can be manifested in rage, violence and war. The authors remind us that it is not an innate drive to be aggressive: We are merely defensive.
The Organizational Context>
After the scientific and psychological basis for these four drives is explored, Driven creates a context for human nature by discussing culture, skills, emotions, the social contract between humans and the diversity we experience together. These theories are placed into an organizational context from which behavior can be predicted by applying the four drives.
The challenge is to find a way to design an organization around the drives, skills, smarts and emotions of everyone involved where collaboration creates, produces and sells products and services of value to the wider world.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Driven's content is complex and compelling, and its multidisciplinary approach to exploring human nature as it applies to organizational dynamics is full of practical possibilities. The authors have done their research, and the payoff is a thought-provoking book full of ideas that are focused on advancing business and the human condition through intelligent insight. The book's theme boils down to the thought that the human species is equipped to meet the challenges of life, and balancing these drives in our lives can help us accomplish all that we seek to create.