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Changing mindset and language.

Last week’s post Simply Run The Experiment talked about weaving the concepts of “Simply do it. Run the Experiment and Get the Prototype Out.” into your culture.  What can be helpful in making the cultural shift is sharing a new mental framework and language with your people.

One of my favorite leadership books is Turn the Ship Around by retired US Navy Captain David Marquet. While talking about the concept of pushing decision making down to the lowest tactical level Marquet shared that they had to change the mindset and language of the crew on the USS Sante Fe. The crew was used to always having to get permission and so the language when they saw a problem that needed to be addressed was:

  • I would like to ….
  • What should I do about….
  • Do you think we should ….
  • Could we ……

Part of the culture shift was to train the crew that when they identified a problem, to develop a plan to solve the problem and then go and present the plan to their supervisor using language like:

  • I intend to ….
  • I plan on ….
  • I will …
  • We will …

One of the things they missed in the initial training and subsequently addressed was having people reflect on questions the supervisor might have and then proactively building the answers to those questions into the briefing. Those questions in your organization might include:

  • Have you talked to the other areas or stakeholders impacted by this?
  • What are the budget impacts if any?
  • How does this support the mission and vision of the organization?
  • How does this align with the Core Values of the organization?
  • Are there any policy implications?
  • What other resources will you need?
  • What is the timeframe to complete this?
  • What potential problems or obstacles have you anticipated?

While you are building the concepts of, “Simply Do it. Run the Experiment and Get the Prototype Out.” into your team, consider teaching them the above proactive way of thinking, planning, preparing, and briefing you or other leaders on the actions they are going to take. Be patient and consistent. Culture change is a process that takes time.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey. The Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop was created for aspiring leaders and frontline leaders to help you on your leadership journey.

Brian Willis