Source:Viktor Kiryanov

Changing your mind about your heart: Part 1 of 4

They stared at me with a look of shock on their faces. I had made the mistake of referring to them as “fixed minded”!!! Cue dramatic music.

Let’s face it, in a world where design thinking, agile thinking, hybrid thinking, somebody thinking and nobody thinking are considered approaches, being accused of  having the wrong mind-set is often regarded as an insult. Mind-set is, after all, the soil into which you can plant any type of seeds and have them grow and produce an abundance of fruit. Or is it?

The Human Capability Sets

Below is a well-known model for human capability sets. I have come to believe a key piece is missing from this model. It is, perhaps, the major ingredient needed to become a high-performance individual or team, and it has to do with the heart. Some may argue that it fits into the mind-set area, but I would like to separate it out and talk a little around what I have discovered.

I use this model to help people through the journey of mind-set change. I find it especially useful when coaching people in innovation and enterprise design, as they are required to jump into different mind-sets multiple times. These cognitive switches are often the biggest challenges, for me as well as those I work with, so I’ll be touching on this as we go through this series.

I began this article as a single share, but as it grew I have decided to break it up into four separate chapters.

  • In this first article, I’m going to set some context and then focus on the “doing quadrants”;
  • The second article in this series will refer to the thinking quadrants and the magic lever of using the heart to affect the mind-set, thereby creating a high-performance team culture;
  • In the third article of the series I shall talk about linking  customer value and business value to these high performing teams;
  • In the fourth and final article, I demonstrate how, by using all of the above, you can improve innovation culture within your organisation.

The DOING Human Capability Sets

There is a tendency nowadays to focus on the bottom two quadrants of the doing sections when it comes to improving human capability. In other words, “give me the tool” or “get trained up”.

In today’s digital world, we have come to believe that a tool is the answer to our problems. Who hasn’t heard the term “oh, there’s an app for that” or “there’s a canvas for that”? With the rapid rate of digitisation and commoditisation, a vast majority of simple tasks are being automated. . Mostly this automation is of benefit and frees up time to apply our minds to more complicated and complex activities. This is where skill-set comes in – the set of repeatable learned abilities, practices and routines that we all use when solving day-to-day challenges. This is also where much of traditional and formal learning seems to focus, aka instructor led learning practices.

I’m someone who believes that our education system is fundamentally flawed in the approach of educating people in a classroom factory. Whilst research has shown that people learn more through social interaction and hands-on application, for complex disciplines this is not always an easy route to follow.  As you can see from the Deloitte research figures below, conventional training is the least preferred option, because it is not effective for long term knowledge-set and mind-set changes. Solving this particular challenge has not quite been resolved by corporate L&D teams as of yet. However, for now, company training still plays a major part in lifting the skill-set of staff to improve productivity.

In a recent conversation I had in the education sector, the general view was that social and experiential learning was a great vision, but shifting people’s mind-sets to move in that direction was the biggest challenge. There it was again, the use of the term mind-sets to describe a generation of parents who still believe that placing children into formal classroom led education, is still the best way to prepare them for the future. This worries me, especially in light of the shift in job roles shown by current research. Are we doing enough in preparing the next generation to take advantage of a more complex world? An even bigger question is – what are we doing with the current workforce to prepare them for our fast changing world?

Take some time to read through the World Economic forum top skills for 2020. One of the many statements I found interesting was – “On average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill-sets in most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today”. In other words, we know the change is coming but we are just are not willing to invest in those skills now. This is otherwise known as “we will cross that bridge later”.

So, digitisation is taking simple and occasionally complicated activities away from the workforce. According to the WEF research, this opens up an opportunity for new roles requiring more complex skill-sets. However, currently businesses do not regard these skills as crucial and thus do not focus on developing or investing in them. Why bother when you have big data, machine learning and AI? In fact, I would go as far to say that individuals and teams that excel in complex problem-solving are not being recognised for the value that they add, and are being actively squeezed out of organisations. This demonstrates a fixed minded response to those that rock the boat.

Individuals and teams that traditionally fall into these categories often don’t seem to have a specific title -they have many, and are often referred to as “problem solvers”. This, however, is seen as too general a term. As the world becomes more specialised, there seems to be a movement away from the generalist problem solver type of role and skill-set.

From what I can see from this research, we do urgently need to invest in and cultivate the problem solvers and their skills. Especially since “commodity” skills are not going to be able to address some of the complex challenges of the future – think cross-industry customer and citizen experiences, homelessness, government policy change and impact of zero-margin cost society and its effect on capitalism.

I believe the most valuable individuals and teams of the future are those that can switch and adapt to change the quickest. It’s a partnership of abstract and concrete thinking and doing which creates the best results, and this partnership needs the right soil to flourish. The soil is the team. And the right soil is the team with the right mind-set and heart set.