This is the fourth post in a series titled Mindset & Agility – The Rocket Fuel for Customer Experience Success.
To date in the series, I have gently borrowed concepts from Roger von Oech’s classic book A Whack on the Side of the Head and repurposed his thought leadership for modern customer experience applications. This week I’ll quickly run through Dr. Carol Dweck’s landmark work on mindset so I can finish this series with several posts based on the research of Dr. W. Warner Burke concerning learning agility.
As you likely know, Dr. Dweck is a Stanford University professor of personality, social, and developmental psychology. Her work looks at how beliefs shape individual differences, and her book Mindset -The New Psychology of Success is a must-read for anyone trying to drive personal or organizational change. Mindset offers insights on how belief systems foster or hinder growth and development.
Specifically, Dr. Dweck examines the roles beliefs play in broad areas like sports, relationships, and education. She also dedicates one chapter in Mindset to business and leadership applications. While the book identifies attitudinal differences and encourages parents and educators to foster something she refers to as a growth mindset, Dr. Dweck didn’t write a how-to book. However, I find her model a helpful guide for anyone seeking to enhance internal and external customer experiences.
Dr. Dweck’s perspective (grounded in experimental findings) suggests that innovation and growth depend on breaking through what she refers to as “fixed mindsets.” Individuals and organizations with predominantly fixed perspectives, typically:
- Avoid challenges
- Lack persistence when faced with obstacles
- Don’t ask for or benefit from feedback (especially negative)
- View the success of others as threatening
By contrast, individuals and businesses with growth mindsets typically:
- Seek out challenges
- Persist in adversity
- Maintain effort to master skills
- Actively solicit and leverage feedback
- Benchmark the success of others to inspire innovation
No person or organization possesses a universally fixed or growth mindset. For example, you may be open to new opportunities for leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience but make excuses for failing to craft a regular cadence of active customer listening posts. The good news from Carol Dweck’s work is that fixed mindsets don’t have to stay fixed.
Like all behavioral change, the first step in transformation requires an honest assessment of the areas where your mindset is fixed. The next step involves a calculation of the risks that come from staying stuck and the benefits of growth. With honest self-assessment and a reason to change, the next step is to craft a plan that challenges underlying assumptions or breaks through those beliefs that keep you stuck.
When it comes to adapting to the ever-changing wants, needs, and desires of internal and external customers, a fixed mindset is a liability. Nimble, growth-focused, leaders are the rocket fuel needed to propel organizations to human experience greatness.
Inspired by Dr. Dweck, here are this week’s challenge questions:
- What is your strongest dimension of an open mindset (response to challenges, persistence, effort in adversity, solicitation of feedback, learning from the success of others)?
- From that same list, what is your most significant mindset opportunity? If you say none, that’s a tell-tale sign you have a lot of work to do on your mindset.
- How would you rate your organization on a 10-point scale, with one being completely fixed and ten being completely growth-oriented? In what areas is your organization stuck, and in what areas are you growing?
In my latest book Stronger Through Adversity, I feature more than 140 leaders who’ve positioned their companies for world-class experience delivery by deploying growth mindsets during and post-pandemic. May you open your mindset to drive creative customer solutions and organizational growth.