Having previously worked in digital innovation, in 1983 I joined one of the world's leading open innovation labs.
When one of our clients asked if I could help "their people to behave more like our people" it launched the unique career path I've been on ever since. I then worked as part of Peter Senge's world leading organisational learning team.
My big breakthrough was discovering that the key to creating a future-fit culture with high leverage and low risk is to see the organisation's culture as the 'system of mindsets informing the way we do things round here'.
Innovative, agile organisations thrive on rich interactions between people with different perspectives.
With insufficient diversity of perspectives, organisations get bogged down in old attitudes and behaviours. These may have served the organisation well in the past, but now prevent it from surviving and thriving in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous future.
But when diverse people are brought together, instead of innovation and agility it often leads to misalignments and fragmentation. Unless and until you systemically cultivate innovative mindsets throughout the organisation.
Without an innovative mindset, others who see things differently appear mistaken, misinformed and misguided.
The way we've traditionally organised, managed and measured our organisation encourages this effect, leading to fragmentation into fiefdoms, factions and silos where local perspectives become increasingly entrenched and those with different views disenfranchised and alienated.
This kills innovation and agility, which can only flourish when people who see things differently respect, value and integrate their perspectives to co-create new value.
People with innovative mindsets don't just tolerate others with different perspectives but actively seek them out.
People adopt this mindset naturally and automatically when the penny drops that none of us ever sees the whole picture in any situation and that other people's equally biased, incomplete and one-sided perspectives therefore enrich, instead of threaten, our own.
We become genuinely interested in what others see that we don't. This leads us to act and interact with the respect that breeds the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that's at the heart of an innovative agile organisation.
So, how do you enable and encourage the systemic, organisation-wide adoption of innovative 2D3D mindsets?
Unfortunately, the usual approaches to organisational change don't work: bringing in a 'team' of external consultants; publishing vision, mission and values statements; rolling out standardised training across the organisation; hiring an executive coach for the 'top team'.
The fundamental flaw in all these approaches is that they fail to focus narrowly enough and deeply enough to ensure 2D3D mindsets are adopted by key influencers. The knock-on effect of this failure is to block wider adoption of innovative mindsets throughout the organisation.
Every organisation has its own unique set of key influencers whose attitudes and behaviours systemically affect everyone and everything else.
The pragmatic, low-risk, high-leverage way to cultivate a systemic, organisation-wide shift to innovative mindsets is by focusing precisely and deeply, first and foremost on cultivating this shift in the mindsets of key influencers.
The need to focus on key influencers becomes obvious the moment the penny drops that 'organisational culture' is simply the system of mindsets that forms and informs people's awareness of 'the way we do things around here'.
It's deceptively easy to get trapped in – and hard to escape – our narrow, biased and limited '2D' perspectives. That's because what we see can so easily become deeply enmeshed with our sense of who we are.
The power of these 'Seeing-Being' Traps makes them the #1 personal barrier to building innovative agile organisations.
Key influencers caught in Seeing-Being Traps block the wider adoption of 2D3D mindsets, anchoring the organisation in past orthodoxies and stifling, smothering and strangling the innovation and agility on which its future depends.
For more than 30 years I’ve worked with sponsoring executives and internal change champions throughout Europe, Asia and the US, helping them to build innovative, agile organisations.
This video presents example cases of systemically improving innovation and agility based on approaching 'organisational culture' as a system of mindsets.
These cases illustrate the systemic way that a shift in key influencer mindsets affects everyone and everything else.
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