I recently sat down with Laura Goodrich to discuss the impact that an organization’s change mindset has on the change curve was discussed. This blog post summarizes the discussion and examines change mindset and the correlation between managing change and your organization’s change mindset.

The Change Curve is a model that we introduced in our Change Management Professional Course.

Change Curve

Attitudes begin on the left side of the change curve where attitudes can range from Neutral to Resistance.  When we reach resistance, our teams enter what we call the Valley of Despair where our change efforts can get costly and even stall. The goal of change management is to execute change strategies that lessen the depth of resistance and the length of time that our team members spend resisting change.

Change Mindset

To effectively examine the relationship between change mindset and the effectiveness of change management efforts, the word “mindset” has to be defined.

Mindset represents an established set of attitudes that is based on known assumptions, methods, and beliefs.  Mindsets are established over the course of time. There’s the individual mindset, the team mindset, and the organizational mindset, and they don’t necessarily sing off the same song sheet.

When we think about an individual’s mindset around change, it can range from “I hate change, I don’t think we need to change anything” to “I love change, bring it on!” When we consider the mindset of the team, there are many team dynamics that contribute to the team’s collective mindset and there can be a fair bit of your pressure if you will to maintain those mindsets.  One example could be, “It’s the way we’ve always done things”.  The organization’s mindset is also something that is established over time and may have brought success for many years.

More and more organizations are saying assumptions, methods, and beliefs that once served them very well and produced very predictable results are no longer doing that.  In Laura Goodrich’s words, “As I talk with groups about what really gets in the way of innovation and change in their organization, it is that pre-existing mindset.”

The Correlation between Managing Change Efforts and a Change Mindset

Looking at this collective change curve, the question is, can creating a change mindset help us mitigate it? Laura Goodrich had the following to say about the potential of creating a change mindset.

“I’m glad you said mitigate because I wouldn’t say get rid of it, right? Can creating a change mindset help us further mitigate that dangerous place we call the valley of despair? I believe yes, as a piece of the larger change management puzzle.  It certainly doesn’t replace the tools and strategies of change management professionals. Creating a change mindset is intended to address the individual and can aid in reducing the negative impact that denial and resistance have on the valley of despair.

The valley of despair represents that hopeless place, it is where the team and individuals believe they have no control. It fosters a catastrophic sort of fear-based thinking. I would argue that collectively, denial, resistance, and the valley of despair are exacerbated right now because of what is going on in the marketplace.  Let’s consider an example. There’s been so much talk about AI and robots and yet there’s little clear understanding about what it means and how it will impact the workforce.  In creating a positive change mindset, we teach a concept called “High Beams Research”.  It is a very systematic and disciplined approach to researching how the marketplace is changing.  So, imagine you are a team member that works at an organization that may be impacted by AI, if over the course of the year you’ve practiced High Beam Research and done a fair bit of research on AI, you’re coming to understand what it is.  When it is introduced at your organization you have a knowingness, you’re not in denial or indifferent about it because you’ve been reading about it and you are in a mindset focused on identifying positive outcomes.  This is just one example of how a positive change mindset can impact the change curve.”

Create a Positive Change Mindset

The Creating a Mindset for Change program is all about turning the focus away from what your team members are trying to avoid to a mindset that is focused on awareness, creative thinking, and positive outcomes. Laura has shared a brief video with us.

We welcome you to join the conversation.  Share with us your thoughts, challenges and questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

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