The only limits are the ones we impose on ourselves. This is the case for individuals and for organisations. So when we see top heavy organisations with strong attachment to the way things have always been done, we see an organisation that has set limitations for itself and its employees. Such limitations are the manifestations of a fixed mindset, rather than a growth mindset. Indeed, a fixed mindset is the enemy of innovation; it doesn’t allow space for learning, experimentation, or failure. By contrast, a growth mindset, as coined by author and Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, embraces possibilities rather than self-imposed limits, and sees every challenge as an opportunity to learn.
Obviously it’s important to hire talented people to work within your organisation, but beyond that, it’s also important to build a culture of continuous learning. Within a culture of learning, employees can let go of the limiting idea that skill is all they need to succeed. Instead, they work hard and see challenges as an opportunity to learn something new.
According to Dweck:
“Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.”
In other words, it’s important to cultivate a growth mindset, as an individual and within an organisation. Here are 5 tips for making the shift from limited thinking, to a mindset that fosters innovation, improves motivation, and continuous growth among your employees.
- Know thyself. It’s not enough for the leaders to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, leaders also need to communicate this information to their teams. Likewise, team members must know their own strengths, weaknesses, and where their efforts contribute positively to the organisation as a whole.
- Recognise effort. Valuing innate ability over hard work is a characteristic of a fixed mindset. In truth, most people have to work hard to develop their skills and talents in a useful way. Rather than praising someone as a great speaker or leader, recognise their efforts to communicate effectively with others.
- Encourage curiosity. One of the core principles of innovation is experimentation; likewise, a growth mindset is driven by curiosity and learning. Create an environment where the process of finding solutions is more important that the solution itself. What unexpected things are discovered on the way to the end result?
- Learn from failure. Consider the scientific process, wherein everything is a test and there are no failed experiments. This can even become an extension of curiosity, where mistakes become opportunities for learning. Could the process have been changed or improved for better results? If so, how?
- Never give up. Success doesn’t just magically happen; it takes tenacity and perseverance. Likewise, innovation requires experimentation and the resilience to keep taking action even when things are difficult. Be careful not to focus too closely on the desired outcome; instead, follow curiosity from possibility to possibility, in search of answers and opportunities to learn.