coNvErsatioNs WITh DanIel PInk 2017 ISPA Conference & Expo keynote speaker DANIEL PINK is constantly intrigued by human behavior. From A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future to Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us to his newest book WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink is constantly digging deeper into what makes us tick. For this month’s Conversations, we asked Pink about his fascination with timing, the research that led to WHEN, and what it means for the rest of us. Pulse: What sparked your interest in the science of perfect timing? Pink: I realized that I was making all sorts of timing decisions myself, but that I was doing it in a haphazard way. I started doing a little investigating and realized that there was this rich body of research on timing that could help us make systematically smarter, more evidence- based decisions about when to do things. P: What surprised you most about your research? dP: How much timing matters in every dimension of our lives. For instance, time of day alone explains about 20 percent of the variance in how people perform on cognitive tasks. Students do worse on standardized tests when they take them in the afternoons rather than the mornings. Patients can risk greater medical errors if they visit a hospital or doctor in the afternoon. And that’s just at the unit of the day. The research on how groups coordinate—especially the positive effects of choral singing—are equally mind- boggling. P: How can readers use your new book to get the most out of every day? dP: Many ways. Here’s one example. The 34 PULSE ■ June 2018 “I started doing a little investigating and realized that there was this rich body of research on timing that could help us make systematically smarter, more evidence-based decisions about when to do things.” day has a hidden pattern: a peak, a trough and a recovery, and doing the right work at the right time can lead to dramatically better results. During the peak, which for most of us is the morning, we’re better off at analytic tasks—those that require heads-down focus and attention. During the trough, which for most of us is during the early to midafternoon, we’re better off doing mundane administrative tasks. During the recovery, which for most of us is the late afternoon and early evening, we’re better off doing creative tasks. The reasons for all this are somewhat compli- cated, but that’s the basic structure. (If you’re a night owl— that is, you wake up late and go to sleep late — you’ll likely pass through these stages in the reverse order.) P: In WHeN, you explain that people are larks, owls or third birds and there’s not much you can do to change what type of bird you are. When it comes to work, most employees don’t have much control over their schedules.