Al Pittampalli

Author of Persuadable & Founder at Modern Meeting Company

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 17, 2016

Discussion

Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
Hi – I’m Al Pittampalli, a corporate trainer & speaker who helps companies like NASA, Boeing, Hertz, and Nokia prepare for a fast-changing world by revamping how the hold meetings, make decisions, and collaborate as teams. My new book is Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World. I’m delighted to be here—ask me anything!
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What is the biggest bottleneck for major corporations and what are the best practices to streamline that?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@andrewmettinger Organizations often spend too much time and energy on relatively small decisions. I can't tell you how often I've seen large committees and marathon meetings for trivial issues, like trying to answer "What color do we make the widget?" Time is a very limited resource in organizations, and so we should spend more of it on issues that matter. It turns out that's not always easy. When an issue comes up in an organization, our first instinct is to jump in and attack it (usually by calling a meeting). Instead, every leader to step back and ask themselves a question: how important is this issue to begin with? Because if it's relatively inconsequential, no need for a meeting, just make a darn decision and move on.
DerekMartin@derekmartin · Chief conductor @ Tuba
Hi Al, in a recent article you talked about leaders wanting better calibration over just building confidence and I believe that is a great point that I try and apply in product development. One thing you said really stood out for me """don't argue to win -- argue to improve the accuracy of your beliefs""" // My question to you is do you think we can really achieve "calibration" if everyone is trying to argue their point to avoid being wrong instead of trying to understand each others world views? Any pointers on how to achieve better calibration in a team that may only wants to argue their view. Thanks
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@derekmartin It's difficult to control how other people argue, Derek. But you can and must control how you yourself, argue. Remember, you'r e not doing it for their sake, but for yourself. Being persuadable gives you an advantage. That being said, if you do want to convince others to be more persuadable, you need to be careful. If you're currently in a conflict with them, you'll be perceived as having an agenda, and it will be a waste. Wait for a time when you don't have any axe to grind to try to get them to see the light.
Mark Keane@mrkkeane · Founder, Favorly
@pittampalli @derekmartin There are different levels of argument, should the most productive approaches be woven into the fabric of what an organisation does?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@mrkkeane @derekmartin Can you elaborate?
Mark Keane@mrkkeane · Founder, Favorly
@pittampalli @derekmartin For example, there is argument with opposition, argument with the purpose of generating an agreed upon solution, argument for the sake of disagreeing, argument to prove that someone is right or wrong.
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@mrkkeane @derekmartin The purpose of arguing is to improve the accuracy of your beliefs, judgments, and opinions. This can take many forms, but the best kind includes authentic disagreement. Having someone play devil's advocate can be useful, but it's not ideal. The research shows that for the best outcomes, it's better to find someone who actually has a divergent opinion. Organizations should try very hard to make sure this kind of arguings happens all the time.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
You argue that "confidence, consistency, and conviction, are increasingly becoming liabilities—while humility, inconsistency, and radical open-mindedness are powerful leadership assets." How should people (who aren't yet in the CEO position) balance confidence and humility in a corporate setting? It seems like confidence often leads to promotions, while humility makes people more likeable on a personal level, but may also signal uncertainty...
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@tomstocklein It's a good question. Confidence can make you look like an expert, which can help you get promotions, raises, etc. That's incontrovertible. But there is a cost, confident people are often wrong a lot, and even worse, don't learn from those errors. Humility is what allows you to get more accurate and improve your own abilities. So I think in a world that is more complex, uncertain, and changing faster than ever, erring on the side of humility is the better strategic choice. Doesn't matter whether you're a CEO or a junior manager.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
1) How can companies improve meetings (in terms of structure, content, frequency, participants, goal of meeting, follow-up, etc)? 2) Based on your consulting experience, what are the most common mistakes companies/managers make when holding meetings?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@tomstocklein the most common mistake that managers make when holding meetings is asking themselves "Will this meeting be beneficial?" The answer to that question will almost always be YES, since all meetings are bound to provide some benefit. What they should be asking instead is "Is this meeting essential?" That question forces you to consider the costs that the meeting incurs. Most meetings won't survive that question, but the ones that do will be much more valuable.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
How did you like Seth Godin's alt MBA program? I love Seth's books and have been considering the alt MBA program, but I'm not sure if it's worth the $3K tuition.
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@tomstocklein I participated in a very early version of the alt MBA seven years ago. It was six months long, and different from the most recent iteration. But the spirit was the same. And let me tell you, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Seth has a way of introducing you to concepts that push you past your comfort zone and help you realize your true potential. I highly recommend it, well worth the price in my opinion.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Al, what advice would you give to someone just starting out writing?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@ems_hodge The best advice is also the simplest: write every day. Steven Pressfield calls it "turning pro." Turning pro has nothing to do with making money, it has everything to do with taking the craft of writing as seriously as most of us take our full-time jobs. I mean, how often do you not show up for your job at the MTA because "you don't feel like it today?" Serious writers need to have that same work ethic when it comes to put words down on the page.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Who are some people you admire?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@ems_hodge One of the people I admire is the nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman who essentially invented behavioral economics. Aside from his research which is fascinating, the guy is remarkably persuadable. While most people avoid their critics, he embraces them. He often goes out of his way to try to prove himself wrong. In fact, when he was writing his last book he hired psychologists to read it and convince him not to write it. Now that's intellectual honesty.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What are your favorite collaborative tools?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@andrewmettinger I'm liking Slack these days. I think it's simple and functional. And more importantly, there's something about it that feels more intimate and team-oriented than e-mail.
Tom Opdycke@tom_opdycke
HI Al, The Modern Meeting takes a hard line on only having a meeting when you are resolving a decision, coordinating next steps or brainstorming. What is your take on weekly tactical staff meetings - such as those described in another book "Death by Meetings"? It seems to me there is value in having "business rhythm" meetings as long as their purpose is clear...
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@tom_opdycke Firstly, I released an updated version of the Modern Meeting Standard last year with Penguin that eases up on those principles a bit. You might want to check it out, if you haven't already. Now, here's my problem with staff meetings. Any meeting that happens with regularity runs the risk of becoming institutionalized. In other words, at some point of the meetings is just to meet. And even if there's not much to discuss, the meeting still occurs. That being said, as long as the team is cognizant of this tendency, regular rhythm meetings can work. I totally get why some teams have them, there is a sense of consistency and alignment that comes with regular meetings. But if they start becoming unfocused and it becomes hard to tell what the purpose is, don't look at me!
Tom Opdycke@tom_opdycke
@pittampalli Thanks Al, yes, I have some of your new penguin version already on order - I guess I am leaning towards having a several business rhythm meetings that provide the organization with some foundation and real-time interaction (while working to keep them from becoming "ritualistic") then that leaves the rest of the schedule for us to reinvent with modern meeting principles. We are starting to have fun with this :-)
The Aspiring Remote@aspiringremote
What are your top 3 tips for virtual meetings and cultivating a team virtually?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@aspiringremote (1) Use high def video if you can. Still not nearly as good as live in-person, but it makes a difference. (2) Create an environment of psychological safety. Very important that people feel like they can say anything. Trust is hard to create in person, even harder to create virtually. (3) Leaders should frequently check-in with their team members. Not to micro-manage them. But to make sure they're not stuck, and to make them feel like they're supported.
The Aspiring Remote@aspiringremote
@pittampalli thanks Al, great tips.
I work at a large engineering and construction company that provides technical engineering support as well as project mgmt services. Over the past few years I've noticed an increasingly adversarial relationship between technical staff (engineers) and the project mgrs ( often non-technical background but could have an eng deg). The technical people hate the mgrs for the constant "status/are you done yet?" deliverables and useless mtgs that prevent us from doing our work, while mgrs think the technical staff doesn't care about the overall project which includes business and technical components. Is there anything you would recommend to bridge this widening gap and help the two groups get out of each other's way to the benefit of the overall company/industry?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@bla24311 I'd need more information to really give a thoughtful answer to this. Feel free to e-mail me at al.pittampalli@gmail.com. But in general, I think the burden is usually on the managers to justify meetings and status check-ins. If the staff doesn't care about the overall project, it's usually a leadership problem.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What has been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome during your career?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@ems_hodge The constant feeling that I'm not doing enough. Meditation and self-compassion training has helped a lot though.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
How did you transition from working for E&Y to becoming a successful writer and consultant? How did you land your first major client?
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
@tomstocklein I started to talking to companies about their problems. And I listened. I mean really listened. From there I had a lot to write about, and a lot to consult about too.
Al Pittampalli@pittampalli · Author of Persuadable
Thank you all for your insightful questions! It's been a real pleasure.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@pittampalli thank you for joining us Al! Fantastic insight so thank so much for taking the time out to chat with us today! 😻