by Claire Bull

MINDSET IS YOUR GREATEST BARRIER TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION


I've been very fortunate to engage with dozens of organizations across the past decade while forming teams to embark on transformational journeys, whether that be for the purposes of innovation or digital transformation. The one thing that I have found pretty consistently is that even though we have models such as agile, lean, user experience, persona modeling, there is one factor that is far more important in the journey than any other capability. That factor is mindset, the mindset of the leaders, the mindset of the employees, particularly as they approach the unknown. There's a lot of unknowns in transformation and when change comes it often creates fear and uncertainty. We need to build the confidence to step into change with a very optimistic mindset.


I did some work with a guy called Victor Perton in Melbourne recently, around the difference between taking a optimistic versus a pessimistic mindset. Similar to work done by Carol Dweck on growth versus fixed mindset. Mindset essentially means that you take a bias or an anchor that drives your inclinations as we go through uncertainties each day. Optimistic leaders are far more embracing of change, can create a vision and inspire others to follow them. Even when the future is not exactly clear. This is very, very important when tackling new technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain. Where your current skill base may not feel confident  -they may feel that their jobs are threatened, their skills are threatened and they're really not sure of their purpose as they go through.


In the second edition of Victor's book "The Case for Optimism: The Optimists' Voices", he writes, "Optimism helps you function better as a leader. In my work with the Australian Leadership Project, it’s clear that optimistic leaders have a clear advantage in the Australian culture and beyond... If optimistic, you will feel healthier.  According to recent Harvard health research, optimism may help you live longer. Optimism is strongly linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events." The secondary thing that really accelerates the process is that once the leaders can influence the mindset of the workforce, you can get your workforce to be optimistic about change. Every single individual in the organization becomes a catalyst for optimistic movements forward - they can start raising ideas to serve customers better, to build better products and services. They basically become passionate in pursuing a purpose of serving their customers’ need. If you can inspire the workforce to have these optimistic mindsets around change, you can have far better and bigger results.


Historically, most traditional organizations have feared failure. They failed to take risks. And as a result, the culture internally has suffocated. Optimism has suffocated. There is desire for change and a little more progressive thinking.


I'm not saying we are all going around being negative Nancys. But overall, we do have a very risk averse culture in most organizations, which is a key thing holding back the progress and adoption of new technologies. We need to overcome this and adopt the culture and mindset of a start-up or the large tech giants who are already very optimistic about change. They have operating models, frameworks and mechanisms internally that allow them to turn customer empathy into opportunity and at a very repetitive rapid rate. They recognize and adapt to change in the market at rates that banks, insurance companies and retailers just cannot compete with right now. We need to figure out  - how can we ensure the optimistic mindset becomes a key consideration in the process of of driving transformation so that we can loosen up and unleash the catalyst potential of the broader workforce.

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