Jan 29, 2020
In preparation to interview Dan
Pink and Stan McChrystal together on February 7th, please enjoy the
first interview we did with Dan on “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect
Timing.” If you have
any questions you’d like to hear asked during the upcoming
interview, please let us know!
Daniel H. Pink,
the #1 bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human, unlocks the scientific secrets to good timing
to help you flourish at work, at school, and at home. Everyone
knows that timing is everything. But we don’t know much about
timing itself. Our lives as leaders are a never-ending stream of
“when” decisions: when to start a business, when to hire people,
when to deal with sunk costs, when to take on debt, etc. Yet we
make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork.
The discussion starts with the
topic of the Free Agent
Nation — people working
for themselves. Asked about Autonomy and Solitude as “motivators”
versus the need for Collaboration as a team, Dan says that
leadership needs to provide a balance between the two. He says the
challenge is the architecture, both physically and metaphorically.
He says that leaders should provide the same autonomy inside and
outside the organization; and a sense of purpose whether the team
member is full-time, part-time, or contracted.
[7:55] By 2020, 43% of the
workforce will be in the ‘gig’ economy. This requires different
work environments and skills from leaders. Daniel wrote
Free Agent Nation
in 2001, before smartphones. In the
years since, the difference between employee and freelancer has
influence, persuade, convince, and
cajole. These leadership
roles are sales activities and effort, time, commitment, belief,
and zeal are the currency. Leaders and sales reps have little
coercive power. Both roles must be adept at broadly influencing
[11:30] ‘If/then’ motivators are
effective only for simple, short-term tasks. Most leaders
undervalue questions of timing in leadership decisions. They think
of who, what, and how, but don’t consider when to do it. The
book, When, is really
about the science of timing… and that leaders have systematically
undervalued questions of when and timing when making critical
decisions. Too often, leaders focus on who, what, and how, and
short shrift when. Time management and
[13:05] “Time-of-day explains
about 20% of the variance in human performance on the sorts of
tasks people perform at work.” Timing is important. Leaders can
boost productivity, creativity, and team performance at
essentially no cost by putting the right task during the right time
of day. “All times of day are not created equal.”
[15:25] Be conscious of the
stages of the day. There are three stages: peak, trough, and
rebound. Your best analytic and focused work is done in the peak
time. The trough period is when you lose attention. Administrative
tasks could be done in this time. The rebound period is an ideal
time for creative and collaborative work. Doing the right work at the right time will
[18:25] Chronobiology: There are
morning people (larks) and evening people (owls). Younger people
are more often owls, and older workers are more often larks. For
example, people aged 14–24 are usually Owls, so you need to allow
for rhythms according to their ages (no meetings at 7 a.m. for a
[23:10] Daniel explains
the new ABCs of Selling: Attunement, Buoyancy, and
Clarity. Attunement is the
difficult leadership skill of seeing from another’s point of view.
Clarity is communicating intent. Leaders need to explain the what,
the why, and the significance of the mission. Buoyancy represents
treating everyone fairly. Attunement is seeing someone else’s point of
view (a little different than empathy). As for “Commander’s Intent”
— people often don’t know what they’re supposed to do and how it
fits in at a strategic level, which is a leadership imperative.
Other ways to communicate intent: Here’s why; Here’s what it means
to all of us; and Here’s why it’s significant...
[26:40] Daniel takes
organizations through an exercise described in “DRIVE,” he calls
“Whose Purpose Is It, Anyway?” That is, what’s the purpose of this
company? It reveals that many employees have no idea about the
purpose of their company. It leads to discussion of an organization
finding their purpose.
[30:55] From the book,
DRIVE, Daniel says we have an innate drive to grow,
but we can only do it with information on how we are doing. Leaders
need to give continual feedback to employees. Weekly, informal
one-on-ones work well for that. Leaders need to be coached on how
to do them.
Asked, “What drives you, Dan?”
He says he was making timing decisions in a haphazard way and
wanted to make better decisions about when to spend
[35:15] Most people are curious
about something. Leaders are taught to talk, not to listen, and to
answer questions, not to ask them. Curiosity can be developed
somewhat... If you get better at asking questions and listening,
you’ll get better at being curious. This also requires
patience. Dan is committed to reading more — at 30
minutes per day. How about you?
times of day are not created equal.”
often, leaders focus on who, what, and how, and short shrift
the right work at the right time will lift performance.
- “Treating everyone well doesn’t mean treating
everyone the same!”
- People have a deep-seated need for
belongingness — and leaders who account for this can derive
- Fairness doesn’t get enough attention. Humans
are attuned to the norm of fairness.
- “Leaders who are fair are those who will thrive
in the long run.”
ability to listen well is a deeply under-developed
feedback mechanisms in companies are fundamentally
- “Leaders need to establish continuous
- Annual performance reviews are an absurd
channel for feedback.
- Leadership should provide informal and frequent
high-metabolism kinds of feedback!
- Follow your curiosity!
about where people are curious in some other realm of their
people get better at asking questions to develop their ability to
need to be more intentional — and less like driftwood.
- Schedule what’s actually
- Schedules should be sacrosanct.
Where to follow Dan
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