Relational Practices I

Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset

There is one very popular piece of research which is making its way into the business world and it has a meaningful addition to leadership and psychology learning, but it is incomplete and leaves us pursuing an incomplete path. I am speaking about the Growth Mindset, an idea Carol Dweck, of Stanford has popularized.

  • Dweck’s research followed young children, and she noticed that when they were encouraged to think from multiple mindsets that it decreased performance over time. But students who practice a growth mindset, they were more able to strongly learning opportunities.
  • There is a Harvard Business Review article by Carol Dweck and Kathleen Hogan.  I used the new turn in direction of Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft has made.  Growth Mindset is now a mandated approach.
    • This represents what Carol notes as innovative companies increasingly open to. It is tragic they stick to the idea that everyone is fixed, and you have to pick the crème of the crop. Then everyone fights for a few developed people.  
    • Startups nearly always work this way, seeing people are pliable, growable and have potential,  when they are first founded at early stage growth.
      • But as they start growing in the business, hiring more people on a steep curve, they start borrowing ideas from traditional companies and pretty soon they are laden with many layers of hierarchy, HR program based on Behaviorism trying to manage an expanding number of people.
      • They add competencies or specific traits and other things where all people are expected to meet, as if that defined potential.
        • Potential is seen as toward some ideals, not uniqueness. Growth stage companies don’t have any idea about how to manage in a flexible way when they have more than a couple of hundred people. Eventually they all fall into the idea that people are all just people and you have to set standards and manage for sameness.

The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.

Harry Golden

Why Growth Mindset is Incomplete

  • There are more than 2 mindsets. More than the fixed and growth mindset that Dweck points out and does her research around.
    • Not knowing what was not studied. Carol introduces a third one to see what it would add to our understanding and options;  and why not knowing about it prohibits knowing about even great additions than the growth mindset gives us.
    • It is not about a need to be in sequence. You get the benefit of the intention of the Growth mindset with the third one and much more. You don’t have to choose, but you do have to make a lot of mental shifts by the business and its leadership, maybe even more than moving from fixed to growth.
    • The third option. Left out of the research is a Developmental Mindset. This works on the effects of our mental frameworks and thinking processes as well as the intrinsic patterns on our intelligence, being state and ableness to manage our motivation and behavior, on demand.
      • Einstein told us that we often use the same mind that created a problem to work on changing things. Development work teaches us to see what is behind out thinking and how to change how we think and the effects it has on what we think about, what can include in our thinking and what we act on.
      • What is missing is that we design and conduct training and engage in it with more than the question of are we learning or not. With development, we can become discerning about what is behind what we are being taught.
      • We no longer accept things unexamined since unexamined ideas are shaping us out of our awareness. Socrates cautioned us about borrowing and adopting any idea blindly. It is the source of conditioning people mechanically. And dangerous to us personally and the society we are expected to participate in as a full citizen. So, it is great that people are moving to seeing themselves as learning beings. But developing themselves is several layers deeper and works from a different idea about what learning really means. It takes building a capacity for discernment of how energies are at work in our mind, our organizations and our nation. And engaging with them from a real understanding beyond the surface.