Posted by: Knightbird | January 21, 2017

Growth Mindset is a Lean Strategy

Dr. Carol Dweck is a researcher whose book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” identified success factors for students. A growth mindset is one where you are willing to try and experience failure, then try again to get better. Angela Duckworth writes about this growth mindset in her book, “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals.” Brain research is confirming the Toyota Production System culture of employee engagement in continuous improvement. Here is a quote about Mindset from an interview given by Dr. Dweck.

“Hiring is obviously crucial – looking less at pedigree than potential, passion for learning, and ability to collaborate. This often means hiring from within. Mentoring and support are also important – putting considerable resources into helping employees grow and develop.”

Toyota hires from within for management positions. And every day is about teaching and learning. Employees collaborate on improvements, writing and revising standard work and addressing problems when they occur, not putting them off. When Toyota was opening its Georgetown Plant in Kentucky, recruiting for manufacturing workers involved a period of training that included physical development. After all, working on a line is demanding, and if you are out of shape, can contribute to injuries. I know, I just shoveled about a foot of snow from my rather long driveway. I have been walking about 2 miles a night, but that does little for the other shoveling muscles.

A growth mindset can be introduced into a business, but I am reminded by an interview given by Dr. W. Edwards Deming in 1982 that management must buy in before change happens. If management is buying into Talent Management instead, then I am disappointed.

I think Talent Management is bottom line thinking, and that Lean Thinking is about people. There is so much more we can do for our employees that I am ashamed when our leadership continues with bottom line thinking and slogans. One strategy a management team I was associated with was “Triple Bottom Line.” While I applaud the goals of a Triple Bottom Line, it is still an accounting function. It just accounts for social and environmental costs along with financial. Toyota covers the same ground in its Respect for People Pillar.

In the past few years, as I have grown in Lean through my studies, I have seen that Toyota leadership has embraced the correct values. As I have grown, I find a greater distance between me and the organizations I have participated in. Humble Inquiry (Edgar Schein); Positive Optimism (Martin Seligman); Mindfulness in the workplace (David Gelles); Grit and perseverance (Angela Duckworth); and a hots of people centered theories have all led me to change my perspective.

Slogans don’t work. We need to live the values that Lean embodies, a culture of respect and improvement. What I am seeing through the eyes of the authors I mentioned is a recognition that the values of Lean Thinking are being validated. I only hope it doesn’t take a lifetime to integrate them into our businesses and organizations. Most of them are run by “Fixed Mindset” leaders. Let the conversation start.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: