Updated: Sep 18, 2020

One of the extraordinary things about being human is that we each have a different experience of the world, and our own unique worldview.

Sure, there can be a lot of overlap between the way any two people view the world, and even in the way they perceive the same event or circumstance, but there is never an exact match. There are always differences. But the ability to form our own unique worldview can be a two-edged sword. In organisations, differences in worldview between management and staff, team members and colleagues can be a benefit or an obstacle - the source of both diversity and conflict, of innovation or stagnation – depending on how we deal with them. When, as often occurs in organisations, differences in strongly held worldviews degenerate into political manouevering and prevent good quality, timely decisions, or impact adversely on organisational culture and relationships, the performance costs can be substantial. Equally, with the right process and skill, differences in the way we see things can open up new possibilities, break through groupthink and produce solutions and innovations that generate substantial revenue. The results – adverse or beneficial – will often depend on  what author Carol S. Dweck refers to as a ‘fixed mindset’: how attached we are to holding onto our need to be right, how invested we are in our ego and propensity for preservation of our sense of self or our power and position, and how we communicate our viewpoint. Edgar Schein, who is the Yoda of cultural change, points out in his book Humble Inquiry  that in an increasingly complex, interdependent and  culturally diverse world we cannot hope to work successfully with others unless we recognise that others know things that we may need to know in order to get the job done. And to do that:

We must become better at asking and do less telling in a [western] culture that overvalues telling. Edgar Schein

With a fixed mindset we prefer to tell, to prove we are right. There is little room for growth of the person or their organisation. With a growth mindset, we prefer to grow as beings, explore possibilities, and ask the questions to which we do not already know the answer. The possibilities for personal and organisational grow