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Friday, July 23, 2021

Lean Quote: You're in Charge, Develop a Growth Mindset

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"You’re in charge of your mind. You can help it grow by using it in the right way.  —  Carol Dweck

To keep on growing in life you have to keep on learning from things that happen around you. Many people are of the opinion that learning stops after you complete your education. But it is not so! You are learning and growing every moment. 

Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University coined the theory of growth mindset. This theory categorizes human learning and intelligence patterns into two categories – fixed mindset and growth mindset.

Fixed mindset is when individuals consider that their abilities and talents are constrained to a fixed set. On the other hand, when individuals believe that they can improve their abilities, intelligence and talents through their efforts, it is termed as growth mindset.

How to Deliberately Create a Growth Mindset Culture

Establish Trust

Firstly, you need to establish trust through open and honest communication within your team. Speak openly about every success and failure in a blameless way. Trust allows a team to communicate freely and respond to change more easily in a blameless manner.

Make it Safe to Fail

As a team you should collectively agree to expose your ideas and reasoning to scrutiny, despite the risk to yourselves. Egos must be left at the door. Recognize that your knowledge isn’t perfect and that things may not go as planned. With each success or failure recognize that progress has been made and then focus on the learning outcomes. Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He viewed every mistake and setback as a learning opportunity.

Take an Experimental Approach to Information Discovery

The “Build-Measure-Learn” loop is a core component of the Lean StartUp methodology. It encourages a feedback focused approach to building a product by testing assumptions and measuring the results in a systematic way with users.

By taking an experimental approach to information discovery you don’t simply build features in priority order from your product backlog and chuck them at users to see if they stick. Instead we shift focus from a feature factory to a laboratory.

It’s important to define what will be measured as part of each experiment and what success looks like before a line of code is written. Figure out the proper "exposed population" before you get going and once an experiment is underway avoid the temptation to change it in any way as this will skew the results.

Regularly Brainstorm for New Experiments

Run regular brainstorming sessions to encourage new ideas for experiments within the team. Run some risky experiments that you think are stupid—these may yield interesting results.

Scrutinize Every Failure for Its Learnings

Each failed experiment uncovers new learnings. These need to be scrutinized and shared freely with everyone. Analyze what happened, what can be learned from each experiment and figure out what impact this new learning has on the backlog and the underlying the assumptions for the product.

Since our childhood days we've been programmed to perceive failure in a negative light. In many organizations failure in the workplace is unforgivable and a culture of deflecting and concealing mistakes pervades. In order to innovate and build better products we must try new things and experiment with the expectation that some will fail. In a growth mindset team failure is most definitely a result to be proud of, and the quicker we can fail and learn from our failings the faster we innovate.

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