You have probably heard about Simon Sinek and his golden circle. If not, have a look at his great TED talk here. 

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In this episode we explain via a nice story with BA, what the impact of starting with why can be. We also cover how you can more effectively work together with CROs and Programmers as well as new team members.

Learn from this episode to better communicate and set you and your team up for success.


British Airways, CROs, Programmers – why you should start with Why

You are listening to the Effective Statistician Episode number 32. British Airways? CROs? Programmers? Why you should start with why? Welcome to the Effective Statistician with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske. The weekly podcast for statisticians in the health sector designed to improve your leadership skills, widen your business acumen and enhance your efficiency.

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and the oral presentation deadline for the abstracts is 23rd of November. So please submit something and have another reason to travel to this amazing conference next year. In today’s episode we’ll chat about why you should start with why. You probably heard about Simon Sinek’s talk and his golden circle and it’s all about that and how it applies to our world of

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Hi, this is another episode of the Effective Statistician with Benjamin Piske and Alexander Schacht. Hi, Benjamin. Hello, Alexander. Nice talking to you. Today, we talk about a very, very interesting topic. I’ve stepped over this quite a lot in the past and it’s kind of becoming a pattern, so I thought it’s a good topic for an episode.

And just to kind of introduce it a little bit. Recently, I flew with British Airways. And I, you know, I always try to get a seat very much in front. So that I can quickly kind of get on board and off board. Yeah. And

So as I’m pretty tall, I always want to sit on the aisle. Me too. I know what you’re talking about. And so when I checked in, I saw there were so many seats already taken in the areas that I actually wanted. And then I was sitting much more in the middle of the plane. And the funny thing was when I went on the plane.

it was kind of 70, 80% empty, you know? And all the seats that I were actually, you know, wanted to sit were empty. And I said, this is bizarre what’s happening here, yeah? And then someone else, you know, just a couple of seats in front of me asked, you know, the sewardess,

what’s why are we all sitting here in, in, in, you know, in the middle of the plane. And she said, well, this is just for, um, correctly balancing the plane. Okay. That’s the why. Yeah. I said, Oh, yeah, that makes sense. You know, save fuel, save travel. Oh, great. Squeeze them all together. Yeah. And you know, and just by knowing this.

I had a completely different view on that. I said, well, I wasn’t angry about BAE anymore. I was thinking, well, that makes sense. So I understood the why of this and not the what or the how, the why. And I think that was very, very helpful for me as a customer to have a positive experience. Indeed.

I think that’s often where you’re sometimes you’re confronted with a result, something where you say, okay, but why is it that way? If you get the answer, if you get the why, you better understand and accept why the decision was taken or is taken or why the result is as it is.

processes in your company gets updated. And you really loved your old processes, and you were familiar with them, and now you need to change everything. If you don’t know why, it can be really, really disturbing and frustrating and actually demotivating. But if you understand, well, it’s just new business requirements that you didn’t know about.

Or there was this incident and to kind of prevent this incident from occurring again in the future, we changed the processes. Or things like this help you very much to kind of buy into things. I think it’s also in, for example, where I saw it in working together with CROs from my perspective.

bigger picture of why we actually do the study. How does it fit into the overall submission strategy for the compound? Why do we have these timelines? Because these fit into these kind of other things. That’s why we have the pressure. Explaining these things will help

you know, get buy-in and get people involved. I mean, this is an important point. I think this is sometimes being missed, especially if you talk about CROs. It’s often they are sharing the information that they think is necessary for the CRO to work. So people are sharing. But it’s for motivating and for partnership, it is far more important to share.

more than this to give the reason why we are having, as you said, the timelines, why we are having the study at all, why we are using this analysis, why there’s always a story behind, so a why. And sharing this is really motivating people because they’re feeling more as a part of the whole, let’s say, story, whole process, whole work that needs to be done.

overall team approach. Yeah, I think also a really important incidence where you need to come up with a why is if you have a new team member, yeah. And that comes on board and you know, that could be within your, you know, new directory parts that you get, or new team members in your cross functional team.

giving them the background, okay, why these kind of things happen, why, you know, we have made these kinds of decisions, why we ended up, you know, in this situation, which, you know, maybe, you know, sub-optimal from a, you know, today’s point of view. But, you know, in the past, you know, these things always have some kind of history. If you come new to a project, you sometimes think, hmm.

Why is this? Yeah, exactly. You think, why is this set up in this stupid way? Yeah? And if you don’t know then the why and you don’t get an answer to the why, it’s, you know, you may even think, well.

Do I work with good professionals here? I had this kind of feeling very often coming into new teams because it just lacked the history and lacked lots of different information on the why. I think it’s also that the new team members do feel more integrated if they have a feeling of or if they have an understanding of the history of the group.

Because usually there are many things that they missed out because they are new and they don’t have the history of everything. But if you create their kind of a vision for them that they are part of the history, so they have the understanding of why it happened in the past, why there was a decision taking, that really gives them a lot more.

of a team membership than it is just, yeah, that’s the way it is. That’s the way we work. It’s, you know, why? Yeah. And, you know, why do we do all these kinds of things? It’s one of the three things that Dan Pink talks about, you know, the pillars of motivation. And one is this purpose topic.

purpose point in terms of the motivation. If you know why you’re doing things, you also encourage people to come up with alternative approaches to fulfill this why. If you tell them exactly how to do things…

they will do it. They will do it exactly that way. And you know, and if and but the problem is very often, you know, there’s all these kind of little details or other things that you haven’t thought about in telling them how to do it. And

when they then confronted with these decisions that they need to make on a daily basis about all these little things, if they don’t know why they’re doing it, they may not have the correct information to make the right decision. Hmm, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I think that also touches the point of what we discussed in one of the earlier episodes regarding the you know, when you get into a meeting, you know, you don’t you don’t

get in there and saying, you know, this is this is what I need to do. And the reason really you have to ask, why am I here? So what is the purpose of the meeting? So why am I here? And not, you know, just to get out of the meeting saying, oh, I know I need I do know what I need to know. Yeah, it’s always good. Great. You know, meetings are great. Any general kind of discussions, one to ones are very, very good to start with.

framing it, why you’re doing it. So I think, you know, having that on your agenda in the introduction is really, really helpful to kind of set the scene accordingly, to give everybody kind of a frame to start. If you get into a meeting and people directly go into the details.

You very often lose, you know, what’s the bigger picture. And the meeting very easily comes kind of digresses or, you know, gets off track or you get lost, you know, in the trees and don’t see the forest anymore. Yeah. People are not, you know, feeling and being involved because they just don’t…

lost the bigger picture, they’re not motivated to work on this because they are. Yeah, it’s the why. Stay Forever Another point is if there is disagreement on the what or how, it helps a lot to first get an alignment on the why. Because that helps amazingly to create a team.

and to create a team spirit, that at least you have something, you know, some common ground to start from. And you can do that kind of proactively by kind of, you know, in a so to say preventative way to always start with a why and always kind of build this. But you can also do that in a sometimes in a reactive way. When you see that there’s conflict, when you see there’s disagreement.

when you see this misalignment, it helps to step out of this misalignment on what to do things and first build a common ground on why we are doing things. And it’s usually much better to kind of much easier to agree on that. And it builds this momentum of team spirit again.

Absolutely, I think it’s important and also to remember, moving away from the why, is that the second point, once you agreed on or you discussed on why you’re doing this, then you usually set the goal to say, where do we want to go? And then the last point is the how. Exactly. So that’s why it’s quite often a mistake of starting with the how.

giving directions of what to do and so without introducing the why and the goal and then talking about the how. Yeah, another example, I was tasked with organizing your next bigger staff meeting where all the people get together for maybe one or two days.

The first thing I would ask if I would have this responsibility is, what do you want to achieve with it? Why are we meeting? Because I can come up with 10 different agendas for it. All kind of different, completely different.

Do we meet for information sharing? Do we meet because we have lots of new team members and we want to get them on board? Do we have an issue with team spirit? Do we want to do some team building? Is there a bigger project coming up that we need to structure? Is there a…

Have we just finished a project where we do some review of the project? What went well? What didn’t went well? What can we learn from it? Do we just celebrate something? There’s all kind of different things that you can come up with why you have a bigger staff meeting and possibly a combination of these. But if you don’t know why you’re doing it, it’s nearly an end.

possible task to fulfill the expectations that your management has. Hmm. Yeah, I think. I mean, even if it’s team building, it’s quite, you know, it’s something about Hawaii. I mean, if it’s not a specific occasion, but really some thing to do for the team. And I think that’s where also leadership comes in, you know. If you’re tasked with such thing, ask.

why you’re doing it. So if you go into a team meeting and people go directly into the what and how and you don’t understand the why, ask for it. That will very often open completely new opportunities. Yeah.

I think this is false. It’s just looking at this from the other way around. It’s not only that we should share the information of why. It’s definitely also that for any of our work, for study work, there should be the question of why are we doing this? And where is the… If there is a history maybe that you should understand.

Is there some information or decision that has been taken? So what goes into the meeting that you mentioned? And then we can consider the what and the how. Yeah. And I think it’s kind of part of this leadership topic that we have as a reoccurring theme in this podcast. Good leaders ask for the why or give the why.

and give the why. It’s a great way to influence people, to get people on board and to make people follow you if you present this why. I think it’s a key tool in your leadership box that you need. There’s nothing to do with administrative leadership, by the way.

No, no, no, no, definitely not. What I was going to say is, I mean, there are restrictions on the why. I mean, sometimes you can’t share information as a leader with a team, you know, of confidentiality reasons or something. So there might be sometimes limitations, but in general, there is a history that you can share and to take the people with you.

and motivate them to create the how and the why. Yeah. And I think very often the why is pretty unconfidential because it goes to kind of your personal motivation, your personal purpose. And well, you could be cynical and say, well, we go to work because we get paid. But…

If you just go to work to get paid and to get the money for, you know, as a painkiller, so to say, you’re probably doing the wrong work. That’s not the situation we would like to be in. No, absolutely not. I mean, no, that’s the painkiller.

Just another reference. Of course, we are not the creators of the start with why. There’s a famous TED talk by Simon Sinek about it and lots of other things that he presented about this. Also, if you go on his homepage, you can find ways to dig out your personal why.

if you don’t understand that yet. But the TED talk, I really can recommend and you can find it in the link to it in the show notes. Even if you just search for Simon Sinek on Google, you’ll probably very, very easily find that. Finally,

Alright, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot for listening and you’ll find more information as Alexander said on our homepage around this. And yeah, hope to talk to you soon again. Just check out thee Bye! Bye! This show was created in association with PSI. Thanks for listening. Please visit thee to find the show notes and learn more about our podcast.

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