Operationalizing Mindset

July 2, 2019 Joe Britto

Reading time: about 3 minutes

Last week we talked about mindset; what it means and why it’s so popular right now. This week I’d like to think about how we can operationalize a shift in mindset.

But before we get to that let’s talk about a possible hindrance to embarking on the mindset journey at all.

Time 1

Shifting mindsets takes time. And one of the things Bobbie Booker has yet to say in my consulting work is, “Hey Joe, good to see, this is the perfect time to do this, we have sooooo much time on our hands.” Of course neither Bobbie or anyone says that for the simple reason that today’s business world runs at speeds that would put a cheetah to shame.

Though Bobbie would find this harsh, for me a lack of time is the last remaining professionally acceptable excuse. And it’s acceptable because when someone says it we all nod along and think something like, “Ah, yeah, that’s true we’re all very busy.” But the thing is we find the time to do what we think is most important. So what we’re really saying is our focus is on something else. Which is fair enough if that’s what we mean. But if we’re saying we don’t have time to grow as professionals and people, well, then that’s a mirror Bobbie Booker may want to look into.

Time 2

But not having enough time is only one hindrance to embarking on a mindset approach in our businesses. Mindset shifts take place with effort and practice over time. So attempting to shift a mindset in business means starting on a journey knowing we likely won’t see the fruits of that work for six months or more. It means that maybe the first month or two we keep bumping up against the same problems our current mindset produces. And that means we need the staying power to look beyond that and keep our eyes on the prize.

Whys and Reasons To

Shifting mindsets in a business is a culture change. So before we even begin it’s a good idea to define for ourselves what that prize is and why we want it at all – what  I often call a reason to and a why. A reason to is the short-term reason: to empower the team to take greater initiative and responsibility let’s say. The why is bigger: to have a company where people are proud to work because they feel valued, agented, and see it as their own.

The value of knowing our reason to and our why is that it keeps us focused when the path feels rocky, or progress is slow. Our why is the prize we’re keeping our eyes on.

The Benefits of Operationalizing Mindset

To fuel that why and reason to perhaps now’s a good time to remind ourselves of the benefits of operationalizing a mindset shift. Shifts in mindset allows us to grow a leadership pipeline; develop a leadership culture all leaders can model; effectively streamline systems and processes; create a more responsive and flexible business; make a change in your business stick, tackle a unique challenge your business has never come across before; reposition your business/function in the marketplace or enterprise; or develop bold strategies for the future of your business. Shifts in mindset allow us to do all of those things in a way that endures.

But because talking about shifting mindset can seem nebulous – what are we actually shifting? – having a clear road map for what aspects of mindset we’re trying to shift is also important.

Operationalizing Mindset

Enter the six attributes. The whole point of the six attributes is to provide clarity and direction on the mindset journey. It means that we can match the shift we’re looking for with the challenge in front of us: what to develop bold strategies? Focus on flexibility of mind and enterprise thinking. Looking to create a leadership culture? Create leaders. Looking to streamline processes? Genuine curiosity and enterprise thinking. And on and on.

Once we know that, we can operationalize mindset by first growing that behaviour in our senior team. From there we might go one level down – grow those attributes in senior managers – and let them cascade the mindset through the business. How? By developing systems and processes that require the behaviour change we’re looking for.

“Hold on,” Bobbie Booker might say, “you just said behaviour, that’s not mindset.” And that’s true. What’s also true is that behaviour and mindset are so closely related that change one and we effect the other. Once we have the shift in mindset at the senior levels, we can use that shift in thinking to create new ways of working.

That means creating systems and processes informed by a shift in mindset that require behaviour change to follow the process. Do that and because behaviour follows mindset we create the shift in mindset. We can start that slowly, on the periphery of our business and then allow it to move toward the centre.

Like I said the value of a mindset shift is its ability to create meaningful, self-sustainable change. The value of the six attributes is that they offer a tangible way to map and grow the behaviours needed to create that shift in thinking.


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What to dive deeper?

Check out The Six Attributes of a Leadership Mindset by Joe Britto

Facing a people challenge?

Our approach starts with an interactive experience. We work with your teams to develop the six attributes of a leadership mindset that enables them to work together, model leadership, and come up with solutions themselves.

Facing a practical challenge?

Our consulting ignites a revolution. It grows the six attributes and operationalises leadership behaviours. Not only do your people have great ideas, they have the mindset to make those ideas succeed.

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