by Lauren Stone
Consider these two sentences:
“I can’t code.”
“I can’t code, yet.”
One word – “yet” – distinguishes the fixed mindset from the growth mindset. Carol Dweck, a pioneering researcher in the psychology of motivation, identified these two core mindsets with regards to how people approach challenges.
In a fixed mindset, people believe their intelligence, skills and interests are predetermined at birth and are fixed traits. People with a fixed mindset view failure as a result of personal shortcomings and strive for success in order to reaffirm their perceived strengths.
Alternatively, a growth mindset is rooted in the belief that our interests are malleable and our skills are a product of our effort. People with a growth mindset seek out challenges and take failure with aplomb. Consequently, the growth mindset is promoted through an environment that eliminates the binary view of success versus failure.
Technology Alone is Not Enough
The growth-oriented mindset facilitates the intersection of technology and design. Steve Jobs once said, “Technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
Jobs’ vision for Apple transcended beyond the conventional confines of being a “technology firm” and challenged the belief that arts and sciences live in isolation. Apple’s ability to develop cross-disciplinary expertise revolutionized the user experience and has resulted in an increasingly popular trend in application development – user interface design. Users are not satisfied with functionality alone; they also desire creative design and ease of use.
Introducing people with non-technological backgrounds to coding and challenging existing application developers to cultivate design expertise can potentially reshape the future of application development and eradicate the perception that skills are strictly siloed and must remain fixed within certain areas.
As the world continues to become increasingly dependent on technology, there is a greater demand for creative and new solutions to existing problems. The belief that interests, skills and individual qualities are not fixed but cultivated through effort is pivotal in driving entrepreneurial success. In order to spark innovation, we need people to gain a deep, cross-disciplinary understanding and look for inspiration from multiple areas. Reevaluating our dialogue and implementing the power of “yet” fosters a growth-oriented culture, resulting in entrepreneurial ideas and creative solutions.
Means Over Outcomes
Before starting at Kenway in November 2018, I obtained my CPA and studied finance in college. Excel was the extent of my technological knowledge, so I was certainly scared when my first project at Kenway was coding intensive.
The fear of failure and breaking out of my comfort zone was quickly diminished upon my onboarding process. One of Kenway’s core Guiding Principles focuses on means over outcomes, thus emphasizing the learning process over revenue-driven success metrics. The absence of the repercussions of “failure” creates conditions for mutual trust and allows uncommon intellectual freedoms, resulting in the rich, frank exchange of ideas.
By emphasizing effort and intention rather than attainment, Kenway cultivates a growth-oriented environment of experimentation and innovation. Aligned with Kenway’s “Why” – To Help and Be Helped – I developed the belief that I was capable of contributing to an application development project (To Help!) through continued learning, perseverance and good mentoring (To Be Helped!).
My thoughts of “What if I am not good at coding?” and “I know nothing about technology,” turned into “I am excited to learn more about an area in which I do not have experience, yet.” My time at Kenway has encouraged me to expand my perceived repertoire of interests and skills and incorporate “yet” into my vocabulary.
The growth mindset is not intended to dilute preexisting interests and skills, but rather to spark intellectual curiosity. By recognizing that any skill can be cultivated through curiosity, learning and perseverance, Kenway seeks out individuals based on integrity and passion for continual knowledge over pedigree. Kenway celebrates diverse backgrounds and harnesses individual passions and talents. All of this ultimately provides an arena for cross-disciplinary collaboration and allows Kenway to better help other companies find the best solutions for their business needs.
So, the next time you’re facing a business challenge, consider “The Power of Yet.” Instead of thinking “We can’t find technological solutions for our business needs,” think, “We have not found the solution, yet.”
Are you a Business or IT leader accountable for driving change in your organization? Are you a person passionate about helping companies solve business problems by bridging gaps between business and technology? Or just want to say hi?