Article 2

Mindsets are the starting point to successful change

This article is the second in a series to share information, resources, answer questions and offer tips and tools to support you as you work across the Southern NSW Innovation Hub and beyond.

The Hub is implementing Co-design. This is an approach to designing “with” and not “for” or “to” people. These regular articles are designed to challenge, teach, and motivate you to explore and use Co-design in your work (and it will have relevance beyond the work environment too.)

All updates are written by the team of Jo Eady, a human centred facilitator, strategic designer with a keen interest in social change based in Victoria and Dale Stringer, innovation specialist and key knowledge broker with Southern NSW Innovation Hub.

It all starts here

The importance of mindsets and the role they can play in change, innovation and therefore Co-design has been consistently raised in our discussions with experts as part of our research. In fact, it was strongly suggested that working with others around what our mindsets are and how they impact the change process might be the most important place to start. So let’s take a deep dive into mindsets and their importance to you as an effective facilitator.

What is a mindset?

Let’s start by defining mindset. Your mindset is a set of beliefs that you hold. They dictate how you think, feel and behave in any situation. Yes, your mindset is that strong and it is at constant play whether you know it or not! So best we get our heads around it for ourselves first. Only then can we help others ecognize their own mindsets and how these might be working with or against a change process. As a facilitator of a group/change process, we are suggesting this as an essential starting point. Have you ever been on a paddock walk where everyone is looking at the same crop at the same time, there’s an issue and some growers are keen to try something new while others are saying to let it take its course and see what happens? Well, this is a show of different mindsets at work. The first, open and future focused, and the second, more traditional and fixed. Neither is right or wrong, but this simple example shows clearly how mindsets can be open to change and innovation or how they can be more closed. As a facilitator, you work with people with differing mindsets every day. Mindsets play a huge role in determining achievement and success. It’s important to be fully aware of your own mindset when you facilitate as well as those of the individuals and the group/s you’re working with. Without this awareness, we believe that your ability to facilitate an effective change process could be harder than it needs to be!

How do our mindsets form?

Mindsets are formed based on your experiences as a child. From there they are ‘set’ and can actually stay like that and dictate how you see, think and behave in the world. Yes, your mindset will show up in every interaction and situation. Your mindset is very powerful and contributes to your achievements and success. According to Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, your childhood experiences of praise and labelling will determine if you become an adult with a fixed or open mindset. If children are praised for their efforts not results, or the process not the outcome, then they will form a mindset that their efforts, hard work, commitment and dedication can lead to learning, growth and ultimately change. This is an open mindset. And if they aren’t then they are most likely to develop a fixed mindset.

Does your mindset matter?

Yes, yes, yes it does. And when working in, or facilitating a group, the mindsets of those you’re working with are also incredibly important. When facilitating a group, it’s good to start by working out and helping the group members work out and understand their own, and then dominant mindset of the group. This is a great way to help people see how they show up, how others see them and how they see others. We hear a lot of people say how they didn’t feel like they could continue in a group as they felt like they weren’t being listened to or heard. It’s likely these people don’t hold the same mindset as what’s dominant in the group. And this is the very reason why they are in fact so valuable to the group as difference and diversity brings change. Your role as an effective facilitator and/or designer is to ensure space for this diversity to exist!

Fixed and Growth Mindsets

We believe that it’s likely you will meet and work with people with fixed mindsets. For change to occur, open and growth mindsets are needed. So, let’s take a look at these side by side.

Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset
Believes talent and intelligence is fixed Believes talent and intelligence can be nurtured, grown and developed
Sticks closely to what you know Believes effort will achieve a different outcome
Believes effort won’t achieve much and be fruitless Believes mistakes are an essential part of learning and that you need to make mistakes to grow
Believes failures define who you are Believes failure is actually an opportunity to learn
Hides ‘flaws’ so you’re not judged as a failure Believes failures are temporary setbacks
Avoids challenges in an attempt to avoid failures Seeks out and embraces challenges
Tends to give up easily Seeks and welcomes feedback from others in order to learn
Ignores feedback Believes feedback is a guide to development and further improvement
Sees feedback as criticism Sees feedback as a source of valuable information
Feels threatened by the success of others Sees the success of others as a source of inspiration and information

Now, go back, read through this list again and tick off which statements describe you best. Add up your number of ticks and you’ll see if you sit more on the fixed or growth mindset side. You can also use this as a checklist when you work with a group.

A final word

Remember your mindset will dictate how you think, feel and behave in any situation. We really think you can fast track a change process by helping individuals and groups to understand their mindsets. It stands to reason that given Co-design is all about facilitating a process of change, a key role of the facilitator is to support the development of growth mindsets.

Over to you

We hope this article gives you food for thought, and that it supports you when planning your next Co-design initiative.

Click here for Article 3

Click here to see all Articles in this Series.


We’d love to hear from you. Please email through any comments or questions you have. And if you have topics you’d like to see addressed in future articles, please share them here or call 0419 912 879. Feel free to share this article with those you think might find it of value too. For more information about the Southern NSW Innovation Hub please contact Dale Stringer or call 0428 409 680

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