February 8, 2023

Enterprise JM

Do the Business

Author Daniel Pink’s five suggestions to navigate what’s next in business


Comparing this week’s business news headlines to those of January 2020 is pretty shocking. In the past three years, companies have experienced a massive nationwide experiment in remote work, the rise of “quiet quitting” and new discussions about a four-day workweek, among other things. 

If you look at the current economic climate, it would appear to be a workers’ paradise, and yet there have been thousands of layoffs in recent weeks, and it just goes to show that no one knows what happens next, best-selling author Daniel Pink said at an event at LWCC on Thursday. Pink has written The Power of Regret, To Sell is Human and A Whole New Mind, among other works, and served as former Vice President Al Gore’s speechwriter. 

“Anyone who tells you they know what happens next is either a charlatan or a liar or both,” Pink says. “This world is so bizarre that we are not in a place to understand what is happening next.” 

Business leaders are currently facing a slew of questions about the future of how we do work, ranging from how offices should be used to how much collaboration is necessary and what work can be done asynchronously. 

Pink has five suggestions, backed by academic research, for leaders: 

    1. Mark three ways you made progress at the end of each day. A study by Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile found that employees are most motivated by “making progress in meaningful work,” Pink says. Making a daily habit of noting your own progress and encouraging others to do the same is a powerful tool. 
    2. Carve out a small island of autonomy. Research shows that, when companies intentionally create regular time and space for people to work on “whatever they want,” businesses see better problem solving, creativity and innovation.
    3. Have fewer conversations about how to do work, and more about why you are doing it. Pink cited a study of restaurant cooks, whose performance increased when they were given a way to see their customers while working in the kitchen, even when the customers couldn’t see them. Highlighting why we are doing what we are doing at work “is the most cost-effective performance enhancer you’ve got,” Pink says. 
    4. Schedule regular breaks, and model them as a strength. “You can’t think of breaks as a deviation from your performance,” Pink says. “Think of breaks as part of performance.” 
    5. When it comes to decision-making, think: “If I were replaced tomorrow, what would my successor do?” For the last 18 months, Pink has been collecting regrets from all over the world via an online submission form. A majority of responses were about things individuals wish they had done, but didn’t do—not something they did and wish they hadn’t done.  

Pink was speaking at an LWCC fundraising event for the Louisiana Bar Association’s Kids’ Chance Scholarship Program as part of the corporation’s speaker series. LWCC raised $65,000 for the program, which provides college scholarships for the children of Louisiana workers who were killed or permanently disabled in a work accident.