This International Working Out Loud Week we will be sharing a reflection on a different element of working out loud each day.  We will be using John Stepper’s latest iteration of the five elements of Working Out Loud as a guide to those reflections. Our fifth reflection is on Growth Mindset.


We can be better.

Our talents are not fixed. Through effort, stretch and learning we can improve our abilities. We work every day to be better at what we do, to better fulfil our purpose and our potential.

If our talents are not perfect, that is because they never can be. There are no limits on our ability that work will not release. If our work is not perfect that too is because there is always more, always another better way to attempt. The way we do our work is but one of millions of paths to our goals. If our purpose or potential is never completely fulfilled, then that is because we strive for more. We want to make a bigger difference.

The value of working out loud is to help us see that everyone’s work is not perfect as it develops. We understand the edits, the changes, the false starts and the dead ends that lead to success. We stop comparing other people’s showreels to our own cutting room floor. We realise that embarrassment, failures and setbacks are temporary but abandonment of our purpose is final.

Working out loud brings us together with others who want to grow and to learn.  We come together with others who want to improve their work and achieve their purpose in better ways. We are encouraged, challenged and supported to take on the daily work of getting better. Supported by a global community pursuing better work and a better life, we work together to grow.

We can be better. Together.

International Working Out Loud Week is from 6-12 June 2016

Simple thinking is good. Clear thinking is great. Occam’s razor works. 

Simplistic thinking takes simplicity too far. There is too much of a good thing.

Simplistic cuts down the complexity, averages out the uniqueness and narrows the debate. What gets left out are the insights, the opportunities to grow and the potential to do differently.

The Growth Mindset of Collaboration

Over the last week I have been speaking to a number of organisations across SE Asia around how they can start to realise the value that collaboration can create.   I was outlining my Connect>Share>Solve>Innovate model and helping organisations to plan their collaborative communities using the approach. 

One question kept coming up. The commonest question I was asked was a variant of the following:

How do we encourage our employees to share and try to solve problems when they are afraid to make a mistake?

At the heart of this anxiety is what Carol Dweck of Stanford refers to in her book Mindsets as a fixed mindset. If an employee believes that their ability, status or position is fixed, then they do not want to risk anything that might show themselves as performing below expectations. In a fixed mindset, you avoid testing your inherent capabilities for fear that you will be disappointed. Highly hierarchical organisations encourage a fixed mindset.

Collaboration demands what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. To collaborate, we have to believe that through work and effort we can learn and get better together. Mistakes, embarrassment and other challenges are learning opportunities that are overcome with effort.

Shifting to a Growth Mindset

My answer to the question above came down to a simple recommendation:

Make sure in the culture of your organisation there is a personal accountability on employees to improve their work every day.

This recommendation sounds so obvious. Surely we can expect this from any manager.  However, many organisations treat their employees as if their capabilities are unchanging, that improvement is the work of specialists and managers and that daily productivity is all that matters. Mix in hierarchical relationships and you have strongly reinforced a fixed mindset in the culture of the organisation i.e. do your job with minimum effort to the best of your ability only and wait to be changed.

There are many ways a personal accountability for improvement can be created in organisations:

  • customer experience, customer service improvement, etc
  • continuous improvement, productivity, kaizen, six sigma, etc
  • rising financial or performance expectations
  • personal leadership expectations
  • innovation, experimentation, agile, lean startup principles, etc
  • organisational values of improvement, growing impact on purpose, etc
  • talent development and on the job learning

Use one or all of the above. Whatever way it works in your organisations culture and strategy, the requirement is that your organisation expects and rewards people for the daily effort to improve. Over time that helps to create an expectation that every individual will work to make their work better.

The growth mindset in your organisation will drive the value of more mature forms of collaboration. Importantly, it will also drive an uplift in performance overall.