Growth Mindset in the Age of Digital Transformation
I’ve been a big fan of Satya Nadella’s leadership style. The successful transformation of a behemoth and the unthinkable change he infused into Microsoft’s culture, practices, structure and strategies is the stuff legends are made of. Pundits will point out how Satya Nadella also created over US$250 billion in market value – making Microsoft the most valuable company in the world for the first time since 2002.
One of the most fascinating aspects that inspired Nadella’s journey is the Growth Mindset Culture which he often speaks and writes about. Inspired by Carol Dweck, a well-known psychology professor at Stanford known for her work on the growth mindset, Nadella harnessed her insights for his company’s culture change and ultimate turnaround. Dweck says that a company that cannot self-correct cannot thrive. This assumes greater significance today when most organizations are increasingly adopting technology in the digital age, making transformation obligatory and sometimes even mandatory for survival.
This has resonated deeply with me. For only a culture that embraces change with an open mind, learns from failure and focuses on being collaborative can truly transform itself. Such an environment helps employees unlock their potential for both personal and professional success. In short, without a doubt the growth mindset will define who wins the digital race!
Learning From Microsoft’s Success
Under Nadella’s able leadership and sponsorship, the talent team at Microsoft has developed growth-oriented business priorities, culture aspects and organizational systems for its workforce of 131,000 employees across the world. Digital transformation made clear that a state of perpetual learning would be necessary for employees at all levels.
Given what we know about the science (and neuroscience) of storytelling, teams at Microsoft designed interactive online modules with rich multimedia for employees to learn about growth mindset. Conversation guides were built for managers to enable meaningful exchanges about what growth mindset behaviors look like in team settings. Leaders engaged in storytelling to give examples for growth mindset thinking and action.
R&R programs were designed to celebrate successes which demonstrated growth mindset behaviors. Powerful employee engagement programs and training solutions (such as games, quizzes, lending libraries with curated books, mobile empathy museum, and environmental creative assets) were leveraged to engage employees around growth mindset behaviors.
The list goes on and a complete overhaul followed. All Microsoft employees across levels embraced and contributed to building growth mindset habits, processes and environments that soon permeated the everyday culture at the company.
Why This is Important For All of us
It’s easy to see that by welcoming new ways of working and thinking, we can develop a disruptive approach and take advantage of its competitive edge. This becomes the driving force behind ahead-of-the-curve products, iconic work cultures, immense goodwill and reputation, and enhanced market value.
A growth mindset has been identified as one of the 10 intelligences that will gain prominence in the AI workplace. In a recent industry research project, it has been found digital transformation to be the leading business driver for organizations adopting a growth mindset. The report, entitled “Growth Mind-set Culture,” shows that 38 percent of organizations rely on growth mindset for such purposes. Today, leaders across the corporate world are embracing it and having conversations with their teams.
Clearly what these leaders understand is that big changes require an open mind - and an enabling culture to bring ideas to life.
Digital technology has stolen the limelight in global businesses over the last decade. Unprecedented connectedness, automated and cognitive interactions, and advanced analytics that extract incisive insights from huge volumes of data significantly influence customer behavior and loyalty. Taken together, they have accelerated change and disrupted models to create brand new markets.
In such a rapidly changing landscape, a growth mindset brings a totally different attitude to work — failure becomes learning, feedback becomes an opportunity, challenges lead to innovation and problem-solving drives development and growth.