Linking Mindset to Transformation

I’d like to introduce two concepts that are emerging in discussions across our client communities, cultural transformation and mindset.

In our work, regardless of the specific outcome we are seeking, some degree of change within the existing culture will be required, or the desired outcome will be impacted by the existing culture.  Both are true and typically occur simultaneously.  It’s critical we stop thinking of organizational culture as a single thing, but rather, a group of individuals who each have their own mindset that drives their behavior.  When the mindset of leadership is to expect more and expect it faster, we must remember to support the culture (the mindset of all of those individuals) that delivers it.  This support typically goes beyond the technical capabilities of our organization’s people and the technology we provide them.  Understanding their mindset is getting to the “heart” of what makes them tick and motivates them to want to do more and/or do it differently.

Our clients spend many hours and resources to create business strategies to improve market share, ROIs and increase the value of their service or product.  These strategic initiatives always require the culture to transform in order to deliver.  This cultural transformation is achieved when people have a common understanding of the initiatives and believe there will be value for them by engaging in the initiative.  As we work with leaders to develop their business strategies, the corresponding change strategy includes an assessment of the mindset of leadership and those responsible for implementing the change or impacted by the change. It is important to define and communicate this alignment between the mindsets of leadership and the supporting culture.

What is the thing we call mindset really? Consider the following:

  • Awareness is your perception of reality.  Mindset formulates those perceptions.
  • Knowledge is the content of your mind.  Mindset constructs the meaning you make of that content.
  • Thinking is the process of your mind.  Mindset shapes what and how you think.
  • Emotion is your feeling state.  Mindset determines what you feel in any given situation
  • Behavior is the manner in which you conduct yourself.  Mindset causes you to behave as you do in any situation.
  • Based on individual mindset, a person’s reality will be formed by how they interpret a situation. 
Reality = Situation + Interpretation1

When seeking cultural transformation within an organization, begin with understanding the mindset of the organization.  Interpretation of the same situations may vary greatly across your organization, depending on individual mindset.  To the extent leaders are able to help the organization interpret the same situation similarly through strong change strategies and meaningful two-way communication, their chances for a successful cultural transformation increase greatly.

Karen Branick
Practice Leader
Orion Advisory LLC

1BeingFirst, 4Sight Advanced Change Leadership Skills and Development Course and The Change Leader’s Roadmap, Linda and Dean Anderson

Sponsorship Matters

In a recent LinkedIn survey of change management professionals, over 71% indicated that the top contributing factor to successful change initiatives is “active and engaged sponsoring: committed, consistent, and positively supporting and impacting progress”.  ( 1)

No change, whether transformational or incremental, happens without support, and pivotal to that support is sponsorship and change leadership. This is a fact of life, regardless of environment or organization. In our collective experience at Orion Advisory, sponsorship is make-or-break for real change.

Sponsors are essential to the beginning of an effort. They help determine the “vision” and think through the particular challenges and pitfalls that may arise with it. They constitute teams and secure resources to allow the work to get off the ground while simultaneously ensuring sufficient coverage to attend to the normal day to day operations of the organization.

As change efforts unfold, Sponsors are there to help ensure the team remains an open venue where ideas are freely exchanged. The Sponsor also protects the team by being an advocate of their work and an apostle of the achievements toward achieving the vision. As achievements yield results, Sponsors are the leaders of recognition and celebration with the team.

You may know from your own experience that it takes time to do the work of sponsorship along with all the other activities that comprise a leader's day to day life at work. Our experience has been that sponsoring is a learned activity. What’s more, simply being in a position of leadership does not automatically translate to being an effective Sponsor. The work of sponsorship involves leadership and leading, but people have to learn how to do it. Just because someone may be a leader in an area doesn’t mean they are a “natural” and can effectively sponsor teams.

Yet, even in environments where people have some experience working on teams and projects that are “sponsored,” the actual work of sponsoring is not generally taught, especially in healthcare, and can look daunting at the outset. But with practice, sponsoring can become second nature. Most often, it is a skill that is learned like any other, and with coaching, sponsoring can not only become integrated into one’s work, but also be a “source of joy,” as is often shared by Sponsors. No one is born a great Sponsor.

Good Sponsors realize that sponsorship is a part of their job as leaders. But it takes time to learn how to become a Sponsor and more time to do the work of sponsoring—along with any and all of the other activities that comprise someone’s daily job.

We will follow this with additional insights on sponsorship and leadership over the next several weeks.

(1) Change is good change factor survey results. 10/24/2013 LinkedIn

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