Avoiding Failure: Two Areas to Mind


I believe the quote by Churchill goes something like, "success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Some people can't do that.  Turns out it's a mindset thing.

Carol S. Dweck, the Stanford psychologist, researcher and author of Mindset, The New Psychology of Success is a favourite of ours. Her work is excellent and incredibly important.

Are you in a fixed-mindset or growth-mindset workplace? Do you feel people are just judging you or are they helping you to develop? Maybe you could try making it a more growth-mindset place, starting with yourself. Are their ways you could be less defensive about your mistakes? Could you profit more from the feedback you get? Are there ways you can create more learning experiences for yourself?

In our work helping people to implement Evidence-based management, an understanding of mindset's is vitally important because putting effective practices in place in an organization can be challenging if people don't understand their own mindset. Do they feel metrics are just set up to judge them? Or, are they looking at them as an opportunity to learn and grow while helping the organization?

Matthew Lieberman, one of the founding fathers of a field called social neuroscience, brings another apparently "soft" characteristic to light in in his new book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect.

As explained by David Rock in his Fortune article, people's drive to be rational agents is only half the story. We also have a drive to be social. "We have hired and promoted generations of managers with robust analytical skills and poor social skills, and we don't seem to think that matters."

"A lack of social skills is behind some of the biggest challenges in organizations. Starting from the top, if leaders are not good at understanding others, they are likely to develop a strategy and expect everyone to get on board, without stopping to imagine how others may feel about that plan. In fact, just 30% of change initiatives succeed, according to 15 years of data from McKinsey & Co."

While good evidence tells us that using metrics effectively throughout the organization to clarify and focus efforts is critical for high performance, it can't deliver the optimum results unless we all understand the implications of personal mindsets and our need to factor in human needs as well as the numbers. As usual it's simple, it just isn't easy.

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