Breaking the Mindset

Sometimes, it is not just rules that need to be broken but the organization’s whole mindset. The pursuit of the common purpose may be hampered by the group’s assumptions about the world. These assumptions are lenses through which the group filters information. Sometimes, the lenses also filter out important possibilities.

It is a great challenge to help a group escape the limits of its current mindset; we are asking the group to make a leap into territory it doesn’t even realize exists. Courageous followers who wish to present a new paradigm must carefully prepare the group to receive it, or they will be met with blank stares and quick rejections. The group doesn’t have a framework on which to register and evaluate the ideas. For example, an organization that hasn’t begun grappling with its lack of cultural diversity has no inkling of the real issues, let alone how they themselves contribute to the problem.

We must be willing to take our concerns about the organization’s current paradigm to the highest level of leadership and begin creating awareness there of the issues. We need to prepare our resources well for creating this awareness and an awareness of alternative paradigms. These resources might include:

statistics—the numerical facts about a group’s current practice,

case histories and anecdotes,

comparison with other groups’ practices,

outside experts and studies,

impact statements from affected stakeholders,

historical analogies,

tours and inspections of widely different models,

future scenarios of the extension of current practices.

Once awareness is created, a courageous follower can enlist the group’s energy to begin exploring new possibilities.