CELEBRATING SUCCESS WHILE PENALISING FAILURE – COULD THIS PERVASIVE CULTURE ACTUALLY BE KILLING YOUR BUSINESS?

This sounds like a bold statement until you reflect on the fact that the levels of disruption facing all industries today have already caused the demise of many well-known brands and companies.

Leadership teams around the globe have been working with consultants to design new cultural and leadership models to deal with the threat; models that look, unsurprisingly like those of the disruptors.

They have been introducing new and disruptive ways of working such as lean thinking and swarm working with varying degrees of success.

And yet none of these deals with the real underlying threat to your business; a culture which doesn’t allow for or tolerate mistakes. Unless you deal with this first, all your other investments will be undermined.

All the new models focus on changes in behaviour, structure and process but ignore the mindset that has created your current culture and which, if unchanged, will keep you stuck very much where you are today.

Even an influx of new talent from different backgrounds will not help because they are either slowly indoctrinated into your current culture or leave in frustration.

SO, WHAT IS THIS MINDSET AND WHAT SHOULD REPLACE IT?

Our organisations like our education systems have been built on a behaviourist approach in which ‘success’ is rewarded and ‘failure’ is punished, creating a Fixed Mindset which is perfect when steady and incremental change is enough to keep us ahead of the pack.

If you take the traditional definition of corporate success – Profit – few if any of the significant disruptive companies would exist today. These are companies which are worth billions of dollars before they have created a single penny of profit.

It took Amazon more than 14 years after its May 1997 IPO to make, cumulatively as much profit as it made in the 4th quarter of 2017.

Their cultures therefore support different behaviours because what some might call ‘failure’, for them is a step on the way to finding ‘success’.

When organisations say that they want to become more ‘entrepreneurial’ there is a good reason. Entrepreneurs are ‘outliers’ in the general population, they have a growth rather than fixed mindset.

ORGANISATIONS WITH A FIXED MINDSET:

  • Struggle to break down silos between functions/business units
  • Promote and revere specialist experts
  • Are comfortable with known and familiar solutions
  • Look to solve problems using past experience, hence age and hierarchy are over-valued

Surviving, let alone winning in age of disruption needs a Growth Mindset at an organisational and individual level.

Organisations with a Growth Mindset believe that intelligence and talent can be learnt and developed at any age as this is critical to continuous transformation in a digital business. They are well suited for:

  • Teamwork and flexible collaboration
  • High levels of uncertainty and ambiguity and delivering pioneering solutions
  • They solve problems with risk taking, creativity and innovation

Of course, no one wants to admit that their business has a Fixed Mindset1 but like so many things in life you can only start to move forwards when you accept the realities.

To better understand what these mindsets look like at an individual level see the Appendix, and then ask yourself, if our people have a Fixed Mindset will Lean Thinking, Swarm working etc. ever really work?

Additionally, depending upon the research that you read, most organisations are failing to get a good return on investment from 25-50% of their talent because of these Fixed Mindsets. Even if you are at the conservative end of the scale that is costing you 10’s if not 100’s of millions of dollars each year.

You will need every single one of those dollars and every ounce of that talent to win in the disruptive world.

SO HOW DO WE CHANGE?

To survive and win in the age of disruption we need to be able to develop Adaptive Experts2 and to do that we need to build our learning and collaboration processes using the latest developments in the Neuroscience of Learning.3

The brain is very complex, but the bite size version of the Neuroscience is as follows:

  • When we are under stress or fearful, for example if we fear that we may look stupid, the dominant area of the brain in which we will be operating is the Amygdala. It is the area of the brain which is commonly described as driving our fight or flight instincts.

So, we are looking for tried and tested solutions, working by emotion and avoiding risk.

  • Creative and innovative thinking happens when we are operating in our pre-frontal cortex and we need to feel safe and confident in order to allow this to be the dominant area of the brain in which we are operating.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

ProMeme is a carefully designed and facilitated process that can be used in meetings, brain storming sessions and all of your training programmes.

Through its design it allows everyone to maximise the use of their pre-frontal cortex thus dramatically increasing the generation of new and disruptive thinking and it helps your employees to leave behind the ‘safety’ of a fixed mindset to the energy and creativity of a growth mindset.

At the simplest level we can come in and help you to facilitate meetings/conferences using the ProMeme process, but it is far more effective if we work with you to train a core of your team to use the process on a daily basis and integrate it into all of your training/daily workshops.

ProMeme has been developed in partnership with Professor O’Mahony of Washington State University and is gaining traction in the Education Sector in the US. In addition it has been used by organisations such as Boeing, Nike, Adidas and Silicon Valley Bank, delivering excellent results and significant financial benefits by unlocking frustrated talent and dramatically increasing levels of engagement, responsibility and innovation.

APPENDIX

Corporate Culture or Mindset is the consequence of the overriding mindset of the majority of employees; so what do these mindsets look like at an individual level?


Carol Dweek: How to Fulfill Your Potential

Few of us start our lives with a desire to look smart, indeed it would take a lot longer to learn to walk if we did! But we are quickly conditioned to be that way by a system that defines success and failure and then rewards or punishes us based on that system.

To find out more information on how ProMeme can help your organisation benefit from a growth mindset, please contact steve@promeme.net

1I use the word Talent to describe all your employees and not just the small subset covered by the HR definition of the word.
2Hatano and Inagaki, Two sources of Expertise
3Timothy Kieran O’Mahony, PhD, FRGS Institute for Connecting Neuroscience with Teaching and Learning Seattle, WA