What are Mindset Levers

Here are samples of the Mindset Levers that could benefit your company

๐ŸŒŸ Building a Learning Culture Mindset Lever: Driving Profitability and Innovation ๐ŸŒŸ

Did you know that a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed fascinating insights about the impact of a strong learning culture on organisational success? According to the study, organisations with a strong learning culture enjoy an average profit margin of 18%, while those with a weak learning culture have an average profit margin of 12%. But that’s not all. These organisations also demonstrate higher levels of innovation and boast superior customer satisfaction ratings.

Having experienced the power of a learning-focused approach firsthand at Cash Crusaders, I wholeheartedly endorse these findings. I attribute our tremendous success in building a billion Rand business to our unwavering commitment to #learning #leadership. We recognised that failure, although inevitable at times, could be made more affordable by leveraging it as a learning opportunity. To ensure we didn’t repeat mistakes, we made learning non-negotiable.

One of the strategies we implemented was linking test results to remuneration. Every second month, it was time for testing. Anticipation filled the air, and the motivation to learn soared. Another implementation was a leaderboard to encourage gamification and learning competitiveness.

It’s important to note that merely having a training department does not automatically make an organisation a learning leadership organisation. Training, in its traditional sense, is a top-down PUSH. However, authentic learning is a bottom-up PULL that stems from individual intrinsic motivation. There is a potential point of failure without closing the loop between the training provided and an individual’s drive to apply themselves. And that failure is likely to manifest itself within their work.

Let’s strive to create workplaces that foster a genuine learning culture where everyone is empowered and motivated to grow and improve continually. By doing so, we can drive profitability, fuel innovation, and deliver exceptional customer experiences. Learning leadership is your ticket to remarkable success.

Cost Consciousness Counts ๐Ÿ’ฐ

As a business executive, keeping a keen eye on costs is crucial. I firmly believe in the saying, “If you look after the cents, the rands will take care of themselves.” I didn’t want to chase after people to control expenses constantly; instead, I wanted them to think about every cent spent.

We’ve all experienced the tedium of reviewing fuel claims and wondered how much it was a wasteful expenditure. It’s disheartening to see those needless expenses eating into the bottom line. That’s why I made cost control a top priority and a constant reminder for everyone in our organization. Here’s how I did it.

Here’s an example from my tenure as the CEO of Cash Crusaders. Our team loved filter coffee, and we had several machines throughout the office for this pleasure. To instill cost consciousness, I implemented a rationing system for coffee beans. After calculating the average daily consumption per person, I instructed our accountant to purchase only that quantity of beans.

While everyone had been given notice of this change, the beans ran out within two weeks. They expected us to order more, but I had a different plan. I directed the accountant to buy tins of instant coffee until the end of the month, and only then could we order the rationed quantity of beans again.

To emphasize cost control further, I made another decision that doubled down on our efforts: we did away with the biscuits (sorry, Mantellis). The impact was felt, and the following month showed improvement. By the third month, the beans lasted longer, and a significant behavior change had occurred.

ย I was determined not to let money leak out. This mindset lever made people truly become cost conscious.

Minimum Vialble Process Mindset Lever.

How often have you overcomplicated something? One valuable construct I learned from AGILE is that a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is good enough. This can be used for processes too. In his book Effortless, Greg McKeown explains how doing the most with a minimum input of effort and time is a much more desired outcome than the idea of being constantly busy (less is genuinely more).

Have you ever noticed that if you sit in front of your PC without blocking off specific time to read and respond to email, you find yourself sitting for hours to get through the same stuff you could have done within an hour of dedicated time for email? “If you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will.”

And have you ever sat in a meeting where the ideas were getting complicated and convoluted, and it sounded simpler before all the frills were added? We have all heard of the law of Diminishing Returns. It’s like eating that bar of chocolate. The first block in the slab tastes great, but the next one doesn’t taste as good until you have finished the whole chocolate and you wonder why you ate it in the first place.

Here are some ideas for you:
1. Lose the jargon
2. Make sure people speak in words, not acronyms.
3. Ask: “Is this really necessary?”
4. Make sure people use simple sentence constructs. As Einstein said: “Explain it to me like I am 7 years old.”
5. Ask the most junior person in the room to explain what s/he just heard.
6. Apply the 80/20 Principle. Good enough is 80%, not 100%! That extra 20% will take 80% more time; by then, your competition has eaten your breakfast, lunch, and possibly supper.

In his bookย Good To Great, Jim Collins talks about turning a flywheel. The small turns create momentum for the bigger things that will follow. This is how Mindest Levers work too. You sweat the small stuff that matters, and the multiplier effect produces the big stuff.

Make the small voice speak up!

I have a view that Culture change doesn’t happen because someone says, “Let’s change the culture.” It happens because someone says: Let’s change the behaviours. It is the small levers repeatedly worked that, over time, you look back, and the Culture changed by itself.

I often pondered the maxim of ‘Who is taking up all the oxygen in the room’ In broad terms, the Pareto Principle was in play, that 80% of the talking was being done by 20% of the people in the meetings. So, if you want more people to engage in debate, discussion, challenge, give feedback, etc., how do you make this a behaviour?

I can tell you how it won’t happen. It won’t happen through slogans about the equality of each voice. It won’t happen through a set of Values pinned to the wall. It won’t happen through wishful thinking that people should engage more. Ask me; I spent 15 years as CEO of Cash Crusaders and witnessed this in play.

So how will it work? Firstly, arrange the seating in the room so that senior people sit at least two seats away from each other, NOT huddled in the corner of the table like the front row of a scrum (that’s rugby for those who don’t follow sport). Preferably have the most senior people sitting at opposite ends of the table.

Now place the most junior people on either side of the most senior people. Then when a point on the agenda is raised, turn to the most junior person first and ask them to comment or speak up. Hold back your attempt to rescue them, as there may be a pregnant pause the first time you try this. This silence is golden. It shows that you are prepared to hear the most junior voice by your actions (behaviour). Have the most senior people speak last.

And here was another method I applied. When I saw that there wasn’t the correct thinking going on in a meeting, or when there was too much groupthink, I would ask for a comfort break. I would then go to my PA and ask her to come into the meeting. I would frame the issue we are grappling with and ask her if she had anything to comment on or add. This had a fantastic ability to open up the minds of others to speak freely. So by bringing an irrelevant voice to the table, it either steered the debate in another direction or made others contribute to buying into the current discussion.

Give it a try next time you are in a meeting. This might bring up fantastic ideas, innovations, and progress.

Is technology usurping time in your company?

Part of building a billion-rand business involves people. As CEO of Cash Crusaders CEO, I watched how communication technology became ingrained in business. When I joined in 2007, I was the only person who had mobile email on a device, a Nokia N95 (remember them?). It was fantastic to be able to respond so quickly to some at the office while I was playing road warrior.

Then suddenly, smartphones proliferated, and BOOM, everyone had email on their phones. It sounded exciting that everyone abruptly communicated instantaneously, but it became a productivity issue over time.

Here was the problem: Everyone was looking at their phones, waiting to send the reply email quickly to look like they were being productive. Sound familiar to you? But as I did time and motion study, I found people were less productive than before. How could it be that technological communication advancements were slowing us down?

First, people were getting distracted by their mobile smartphones, using them to look at #socialmedia. Whenever I looked at someone sitting at their PC, they seemed to be on their phone.

Secondly, I worked out that I was more productive if I blocked time out to read emails at certain times of the day only.

Thirdly, I was copied on emails that were not relevant to me and seemed to be a waste of my inbox space and time. I once told a team member: “When all I have is time, why do you choose to waste it by copying me on emails totally irrelevant to me.”
Forth, people were emailing each other while seated a few feet away. Great for covering one’s backside but poor at communication.

Here was the Mindset Leverโ€ฆ
You could not email someone sitting on the same floor as you if you had not first gone over to them to discuss the point, using email only to confirm the facts. This forced people to enter a dialogue (2-way communication), not a monologue (1-way CMA email). You would be amazed at how much fewer emails go back and forth when you do this simple productivity hack.

You could not copy people on emails unless they had a direct connection to the outcome. My personal check on this was if I received three emails from the same person where there was nothing for me to act on or be explicitly aware of, they were called in for a meeting.

Cellphones (and tablets) had to be stored in drawers, only taken out at tea and lunch. Try this! You will irritate many people, but your productivity will go up. A study done by Statista shows that the average time spent on social media is 2 hours and 31 minutes per day. The University of California further studied work time spent on social media, averaging 12% of their workday or 2 hours 24 minutes per week. How to look at this is: Would your staff be happy if you paid them 2,5 hours less per week?

Give it a try. These Mindset Levers might surprise you on the upside.

Changing Behavior, not Culture Mindset Lever:
To drive change, it’s essential to understand that culture results from changed behavior or mindsets. Rather than directly changing Culture, which can be challenging, focus on changing behaviors through targeted strategies.

Harnessing the Power of Levers:
Success relies on finding the proper leverage to overcome obstacles. By reframing problems as incremental changes, we accumulate significant transformations over time. Levers are the key to achieving substantial outcomes through strategic adjustments.

Drawing on Mindset Levers:
James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” book emphasizes the significance of marginal gains in performance. Working on mindset levers in People, Processes, and Productivity, with just a 1% daily improvement, can result in a remarkable 37.78% performance boost annually (calculated as (1+0.01)^365=37.78%).

Reframing the Customer Relationship Mindset Lever:
While at Cash Crusaders, I delved into the Franchise Agreement and questioned, “Who is our customer?” I challenged the belief that only the end customer is our customer.

Expanding the Customer Definition:
Our customers should include those directly influenced by our actions. Frontline staff impacts the end customer, but what about those in the C-suite or offices? How can we ensure they share our customer-centric mindset?

Treating Internal Influencers as Customers:
We fostered collaboration by treating internal influencers, like Franchisees, as customers. Recognizing their importance in shaping the customer relationship, we met their needs, provided resources, and aligned our mindsets through shared Values.

Driving Behavioral Change for Success:
By reframing the customer relationship, we brought about behavioral changes that propelled Cash Crusaders to become a billion-rand enterprise. Focusing on our internal customers and empowering them positively impacted the organization.

As CEO of Cash Crusaders, I’ve learned that changing behavior is critical to shaping organizational Culture. We can drive transformative growth through simple mindset levers like reframing the customer relationship. Embracing this approach allows us to harness the power of incremental changes and propel our organizations toward success.

Your electronic diary is a scheduler, not a performance measure Mindset Lever.

There is nothing better than an old fashion paper diary. What I learned from people using electronic diaries is that it’s OK to look productive and full of appointments/meetings/actions, BUT like #statistics, it showed me a lot but hid some very important parts.

Firstly, each person on my team had to have a paper diary. And you could not come to one of my Opco meetings without it. I would ask to see the diary of random individuals. So here goes the hack. Diaries were to be completed in a blue pen for the week ahead. Any task that came up on the day would be filled in black pen. This allowed me to see how well people planned their week ahead. If tasks that should be planned were only being filled in on the day, it showed me that the person wasn’t thinking about his/her business.

Then I had a rule about prioritising work. Without digging into each task in an employee’s diary, you may not know which urgent or important task gets passed over to the next day/week by them unless you have much time on your hands and like spoon-feeding people (I don’t). Tasks that were completed were scratched through. Tasks that weren’t complete were assigned to another day.

But how would you know if they were not eating the frog (taking on the hard tasks)? Here is a simple hack for you to apply. Tell them a task can only be moved twice, and then it may no longer appear in their diary. I firmly believe in the concept – 3 strikes and your out! Because it’s written up, you cant delete it like an electronic diary can. So by the third round, they are compelled to complete the task or leave it off forever.

Now you see the importance of a physical paper diary. Some old-school methods are still better than modern methods. I am not saying you shouldn’t have a scheduler, just don’t call it a diary.

The Power of Incremental Change Mindset Lever.

This is one of the most powerful concepts I ever read about that shaped my attitude to changing / improving habits. The concept of “1% aggregate of marginal gain” in Atomic Habits refers to the idea that small, incremental improvements to a habit can lead to a significant overall improvement over time. The idea is that if you can make small improvements to your habits on a regular basis, eventually those small improvements will add up to a big difference. The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, suggests that focusing on making small changes to your habits, rather than trying to make big changes all at once, is a more effective and sustainable way to create lasting change.

Keeping your Talent Mindset Lever.

In my time as CEO of Cash Cruasders a resignation within my senior team was always something that I lamented. If I took all the effort to hire them, why would they leave was a question that would percolate. I knew that a key role of the leader was to retain institutional knowledge and prevent talent from going to competition. My guiding principle was based on a book by Liz Wiseman – Multipliers. Liz talks of Multipliers and Diminishers and to know the difference is the stuff of Alchemy.

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