Since then I have seen Microsoft’s Tony Reeves give a fantastic talk on the subject at an innovation summit where we were both headline speakers. After Tony and I had spoken, lots of people asked me about it, saying that it sounds great in theory, but where do you start to become a learning organisation? Great point!
There are lots of people that write about the learning organisation, but very little about how to do something with it, let alone implement it in the workplace – which is kind of odd because here in the UK, it gets taught in Primary Schools and I even noticed an article by Kate Daniels in the (excellent) childrens’ magazine, Aquilla (March 2018 edition if you’re interested).
Agility in Mind are experts in helping companies, teams and individuals change the way they work to increase their ability to respond to change and outpace their competitors. Here are some of the growth mindset tips we use to help achieve this:
1. You need a clear vision
If you don’t know where you’re going you’re not going to get there. This is about alignment. If everyone has a different idea of what is right, you can’t know what’s wrong – meaning you don’t have a baseline to learn from.
Action to take? Get a clear vision, align everyone behind it.
2. Real and perceived constraints
“But we have always done it this way” is the sad whimper of a team that reaches for process when faced with complexity. It’s a real warning sign that you’ve stagnated. Generally speaking, there are very few real constraints.
Action to take? Work out what your real constraints are and then challenge everything else.
3. Cognitive bias
Humans can be weird. We all have certain biases that can inhibit our creative thinking.
In case you’re interested, examples include: recency bias: your last idea is your favourite idea; bandwagon effect: you’re more likely to adopt a belief if lots of other people around you subscribe to it (see groupthink); and my personal favourite, overconfidence: 93% of drivers think they are above average drivers… 🙂
Action to take? Cognitive biases: know them and look out for them.
4. Innovation is a mindset
Technology isn’t the answer to innovation it’s the enabler of it. Innovation is about understanding the problem you have to solve from the human perspective. Have you fallen in to the trap of thinking it’s all about technology, not people?
A nice quote I saw recently:
“ We need to remember that we are the masters of technology, it is not the master of us.” – Richard Branson
Action to take: put people at the centre.
5. Lead by example
If you want your team to learn from their mistakes, you need to be open about when you make mistakes too. Being able to show vulnerability in front of your colleague(s) enables the air of psychological safety that you need to be an effective team. “Be the change you want to see…” (not a Ghandi quote, apparently Who knew?).
Also, check out Google re:work’s guide to team effectiveness.
Action to take? Check yourself: are you a leader or a manager?
6. Learn to share
I say this to my 5 year old all the time! There is a lesson in it for us too though. Teams that learn to share are teams that grow to do good things. Where to start?
- Share feedback;
- Share ideas;
- Share lunch!
I once saw an “African Proverb” on the wall in an airport. It said: “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”. There’s mileage in that…
Action to take? Whatever you do, do it together and soon the barriers of fear and unconscious compliance will be replaced by drive and creativity.
7. Celebrate diversity
I enjoyed Hidden Figures. For me though it reinforced a simple truth. It’s not the size of your team that matters – it’s the diversity. If everyone on it has the same background, skill-set or role, you’re more than likely going to have similar ideas. Challenging each other is necessary in order to grow. This is easier if you’re not all coming from the same place to begin with.
Action to take? Shake it up, people!
8. Fool me once…
Are you making the same mistakes over and over again? That’s crazy! Not learning from mistakes is a true sign of a fixed mindset that favours rigid, un-responsive structure and following rules without questioning. In a world that is moving so fast where the pace of technology and customer expectation is shifting so fast we have to be able to respond fast and respond well. There’s no time to keep making the same mistake over and over.
Action to take? Spot when mistakes repeat. Jump on it, learn from it!
9. Reward vs Incentive
To me, incentives feel like bribery. If you do ‘X’ then I will give you ‘Y’. I feel reward is much more appropriate. If you incentivise people to ‘be vulnerable’ goodness only knows what you will get. Rewards on the other hand should happen with no planning. If someone is doing well you can reward them with one-off treats (or simply encouragement) that others will see. This will start to change behaviours and wider culture positively.
Action to take: Reward growth mindset behaviours.
10. Get some data
Team tools like Yammer and Slack show data around engagement and sharing. Data in isolation is OK – but used to help bring insights as to how your cultural changes are going? Then they are invaluable.
Action to take: Gather data. Use it to illuminate progress and inform decision making.
We all need to learn to grow, but becoming a learning organisation is about cultural change and knowing when to use technology, process and tools to help us do so. I hope this gives you a great starting point. Any questions, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!