Change is Growth is Change

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Adding Mindset to the Order Set: Changing the Way We Change

Are there examples of the fixed and growth mindsets operating in our industry? While there is no hard data as yet, we believe they exist. Take the “close out” or “lessons learned” report prepared at the end of a key project phase and at project completion. In our experience, a fixed mindset organization typically either fails to complete their lessons learned report or does a perfunctory job, ignoring the origin of good ideas found in mistakes and failures – perhaps because they feel failure (or success, for that matter) is not a learning opportunity. A growth mindset organization on the other hand more effectively uses a close out report – as one of a select group of key project outputs – considering it critically important to HIT projects success. They see this report as a tool for plowing back lessons learned into each project phase, and into the organization as a whole for future projects. This is a hallmark of an organization with a growth mindset: focusing on praising process, i.e., pursuing challenges doggedly and with resilience as a result of setbacks, rather than just praising outcomes.

The good news is that Dweck’s mindsets are malleable. We can change them. We have the ability to choose a growth mindset, very much like the Greek woman on Dyer’s flight chose peace.

Dweck defined four steps for changing individuals from the fixed to the growth mindset. 1 First, we acknowledge our fixed mindset “voice.” As we approach a challenge, do we hear “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent. If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”

Second, we acknowledge we have a choice in how we interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticisms. We can choose a fixed mindset – we lack abilities and have fixed talents, or we can choose a growth mindset – we need to expand our strategies and increase our effort, stretch ourselves, and broaden our abilities.

Third, we approach new challenges with a growth mindset voice. For example, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.”

Finally, we act with the growth mindset. For example, when hearing both voices, practicing the growth mindset eventually overcomes the fixed mindset. As the Cherokee story goes, the wolf that lives is the one you feed. 2

In the same way, leaders can choose to create a growth mindset culture within their organization. Dweck offers the following transformational suggestions, recommending that fixed mindset organizations and their leadership: 1) value passion, dedication, growth and learning, 2) expect their personnel to arrive ready to learn instead of arriving fully formed, 3) expect personnel to stretch beyond their comfort zone and take reasonable risks, and 4) reward by praising process, rewarding taking on challenges, teamwork and whole-hearted engagement to foster effort and persistence in the face of obstacles. 3

Last year, Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, related a story of learning – this one with a decidedly different tone. He was reflecting on his son, then five years old, who just started to read. Each night, as they read a book together, his son would identify a new word and he would inevitably struggle with it. With patience and encouragement from Mr. Khan, his son would eventually “get it.” After a particularly challenging word, his son happily turned to him and said “Dad, aren’t you glad how I struggled with that word? I think I could feel my brain growing.” 4. Huffington Post. Retrieved on January 26, 2015 from]

We all see health care and HIT getting bigger. Growing our brains (in more fertile mind fields) may be essential to understanding and navigating this brave new world.

  1. Dweck, C. S. How Can You Change From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset? Mindset (web site). Retrieved on January 26, 2015 from
  2. Two Wolves – A Cherokee Legend. First People: The Legends. Retrieved on January 26, 2015 from
  3.  Green, Sarah. The Right Mindset for Success (podcast interview with Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.). Harvard Business Review Ideacast. 2014 November. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from
  4. Khan, Salman (August 18, 2014). The Learning Myth: Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart [blog post
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Posted on January 7th, 2015 in Innovating Health Care IT
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