It is often during moments of crises that innovation and creativity happen. When forced into a corner by uncontrollable circumstances, humans have shown a remarkable ability to skilfully adapt and overcome those challenges. Alibaba, a giant e-commerce conglomerate, grew out of the 2003 SARS crisis while Airbnb and Uber saw immense growth after the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. These companies saw opportunity where others saw a crisis, and this is a hallmark of a growth mindset.
Fixed versus Growth Mindset
When confronted with adversity, an individual's mindset plays a huge role in how they handle it. According to Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, people usually exhibit either of the two types of mindset when it comes to challenges and attaining success: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. The difference is illustrated in the diagram below.
In times of crisis, much like the one we are going through now, having a growth mindset is especially important. Individuals who exhibit a growth mindset are not easily knocked down by challenges and find every opportunity to improve themselves. These are the types of people who can weather adversity successfully.
The mindset does not only apply to individuals, but to organisations as well. In fact, Dweck, along with other researchers, conducted a study of seven Fortune 1000 companies to uncover perceptions of workplace culture based organisational mindsets. It was shown that employees at a fixed mindset company had a more negative impression of their workplace culture and felt that the company did not have their back. They pursued less innovative projects because they were afraid of failure and had lower levels of commitment towards their company. The adverse was true in a growth mindset company. In essence, the organisational mindset informs organisational culture, which in turn influences employee engagement.
As such, if organisations have a growth mindset towards change, they are more likely to embrace the disruption and see it as a chance to improve organisation performance and to learn new skills. Mistakes will be made but this adds to the learning. This will help in developing new capabilities and moving the organisation toward adoption and sustainable change. Having the ability to do this will ensure their longevity.
No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. - Voltaire