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 Justin Rosenstein (Asana)

 From First Round Review

Justin Rosenstein wasn’t sure what had happened. One of his company’s highest performing engineers seemed to have lost his enthusiasm for the work. “He had gone from super dedicated to detached,” says the co-founder of Asana, an app that powers teamwork without email. “Something wasn’t right. He seemed to be in an existential funk.”

So he took him for a walk and asked one simple question: “What’s wrong?”NibzNotes12

At first, the engineer couldn’t pinpoint the source of his malaise. Then he said, “I’m not sure what I’m doing here. I wonder, should I even be writing software?” Rosenstein was struck. Sure, the company had grown, but what had changed?

Instead of reciting a normal pep talk, he started asking questions. “When you go back to your desk, what’s the next line of code you’ll write?” he asked. The engineer explained he was repairing a chunk of old code. “Why?” Rosenstein asked. And with every answer he asked again, “Why?” Finally the engineer said, “It will make the site faster, which will let people communicate with their teammates more quickly.”

This was the breakthrough. “So it will allow more people to accomplish their goals?” Rosenstein asked. “I looked at him, and he looked at me, and it was just like, okay, he was ready to get back to work.”

He had stumbled upon that one, critical missing ingredient — an ingredient that Rosenstein and Asana’s leadership have accepted as key to their success: Clarity.