Mindset Book Cover

Next week we will complete our re-read of Mindset with a round-up and some thoughts on using the concepts in this book in a wholesale manner.  The next book in the series will be Holacracy.  Buy a copy today and read along!  I have had a couple of questions about why did not do a poll for this re-read.  As I noted last week, after my recent interview with Jeff Dalton on Software Process and Measurement Cast 433, I realized that I had only read extracts from Holacracy by Brian J. Robertson.  I think many of us are looking for an organizational paradigm for Agile organizations.  Hierarchies and matrix organizations have clear and immediate drawbacks.  Holacracy might be one tool to address this problem, which why we will read this book.

One more thing — If you are going to be at QAI Quest 2017 April 3 – 7, please come hear me speak and track me down for a coffee or adult beverage and we can talk shop! 

Chapter 8: Changing Mindsets

The whole concept of mindsets would be an interesting footnote if we did not believe they could change. Chapter 8 drives home the point that has been made multiple times in the book, that mindsets are malleable with self-awareness and a lot of effort. The question of whether all people want to be that self-aware will be addressed next week as we wrap up our re-read.

Dr. Dweck opens the chapter by using the metaphor of surgery to illustrate why change is difficult. For example, if you have a wart a doctor will freeze it or cut it off.  It is gone.  Old behaviors don’t lend themselves to surgical removal. They are always still lurking in the background and can come back.  They are never excised.  If we wanted a medical metaphor, behaviors are more like the virus that causes shingles which enters the body as chicken pox, runs its course and then lingers forever after to potentially reemerge over and over (PS – get the vaccination).  When I was young, I smoked.  I don’t know how many times I quit only to relapse.  Every time I relapsed I knew shouldn’t buy that pack or bum a smoke but did it anyway.  If I had branded myself as weak I would have never I climbed back on the wagon and learned from the triggering event. Dweck points out that our mind is always keeping track and interpreting, keeping a running account, of our actions based on our mindset. That accounting process can be the difference between see not meeting a goal such smoking cessation as a learning even or being branded a failure.  Our mindsets generate internal dialogs that can empower or “unpower” (I made up this word).  A growth mindset generates a different internal dialog and a fixed mindsets fill in the internal dialog.   A growth mindset looks for the learning opportunity

Mindsets are not fixed.  In studies presented in Chapter 8, just learning that you have or lean toward a fixed mindset can cause change.  The act of learning provides knowledge that can be helpful to confront the self-destructive behaviors at the heart of a fixed mindset.  Knowing is not always a sufficient mechanism for change.

Chapter 8 provides insights into several academic and commercial approaches Dweck has used to affect change.  The common thread in all of the effective approaches outlined in the chapter is a belief that you are in charge of your mind and your mind can grow (metaphorically).  Change however is difficult.  In order to change an individual has to be able to give up their current self-image and replace the self-image.  Replacing your self-image is frightening.  You have to give up something known and replace it with something else that might sound better but that you have no experience with.  

The process of changing from a fixed to a growth mindset begins with making a “vivid, concrete, growth-oriented plan” that includes specific”when, where, and how” components.  Execution needs to be coupled with feedback, support and mentoring.  None of the good techniques and examples provided will suffer from willpower and the ability to learn from feedback.

Using Mindsets:

Organizational Transformation:  Mindsets provide a tool for considering how organization transformation will be perceived and the predicting the unintended consequences of change. For example, if an organization was trying to shift from a risk-adverse culture to a more innovative culture messaging would tend to focus on growth opportunities, failing fast and learning.  To people within the organization with growth mindsets, these concepts would make sense and be easily absorbed (assuming the organization’s actions supported the words for the most part).  However, those with a fixed mindset (potentially some key players and top individual performers) would first need to recognize that their behavior has to change.  The organization would need to actively provide growth plans to support their transition.  Using mindsets in organizational transformation plans is using for change management, messaging and risk planning. At an organizational level, using mindsets in planning is an important though exercise that can guide other activities including team level coaching.

Team Coaching: The sentence, “a vivid, concrete, growth-oriented plan” reflects one of the more important tactical realities that must be remembered when using mindsets at a team or personal level.  Teams and organizations don’t change, it is all about the people.  Individual people change which then influence the team or organization.  Coaches need should begin any team coaching activities by targeting leaders/influencers.  Think of the game Jenga, game pieces are removed until the key piece is exposed and when removed the tower falls.  Transforming a team is much akin to anti-Jenga.  The goal is to find the critical piece and help them to change. Change requires self-realization, a plan, effort and support.    

Previous Entries of the re-read of Mindset:

Basics and Introduction

Chapter 1: Mindsets

Chapter 2: Inside the Mindsets

Chapter 3: The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment

Chapter 4: Sports: The Mindset of a Champion

Chapter 5: Business: Mindset and Leadership

Chapter 6: Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not)

Chapter 7: Parents, Teachers, Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?