“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
— Carol Dweck, Mindset (2006, pg. 7)
Growth mindset: Creativity, innovation and achievement
In Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck describes two types of mindsets: a “growth mindset” and a “fixed mindset”. A growth mindset ultimately fosters greater creativity, innovation and achievement. If a growth mindset can be encouraged through the environment, how can this be applied to learning programs, such that they develop learners / managers who have a greater willingness to appreciate challenge, embrace mistakes and lead through uncertainty for more innovative outcomes?
Growth mindset: Focus on learning
People with a growth mindset focus on learning. It’s the process of hard work and challenge that makes a difference. They are motivated by stretch targets and perform at their best in challenging situations. Dweck says, “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.”
In contrast, a fixed mindset characterizes a focus on tangible objectives, success and external validation. A fixed mindset is more comfortable setting achievable objectives as compared to stretch targets, and when tangible objectives such as grades or numerical targets aren’t met, it may feel like a failure.
Growth mindset environment: perseverance, process, embracing mistakes
While mindsets may be developed during youth, they can be changed and encouraged by creating a growth mindset environment through these key elements:
- Convey organizational values of learning and perseverance, not just ready-made genius or talent
- Present skills as learnable and provide coaching and guidance
- Give praise for process vs. outcomes, i.e. practice, study, persistence vs. grades
- Learn from failure and embrace mistakes as learning opportunities
- View managers and teachers as resources for learning
Growth mindset learning programs: action learning, experimentation, collaboration, guidance
The points above suggest that learning programs can be designed to encourage a growth mindset environment. They suggest:
- Action learning programs and simulations that facilitate experimentation as compared to lectures that may suggest one right approach
- Collaborative teamwork vs. individuals competing for grades
- A “guidance” philosophy from faculty and coaches as compared to “giving the answer”
- Measuring learning vs. happiness factor ratings, as the greatest learning happens when people feel the least comfortable
Learning organizations that embrace a growth mindset must also embrace greater uncertainty in learning programs because the approaches described above are less controlled with sometimes messy outcomes. But for those up to the challenge, the outcomes relate to richer learning experiences and learners with greater capacity for challenge, uncertainty and innovation – a necessity in today’s uncertain world.
Source: Dweck, Carol (2006) Mindset.