Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Your Head Around Mindset - Driving Succcessful Transformations

I recently finished my blog series on Bridging to SaaS Success, and I've been thinking a lot about one part of that framework, Mindset. I talked about the SaaS mindset, and said, "Mindset is made up of 3 things, orientation, perspective, and focus".

Since then, Mindset has come up in my client work with technology clients, not only in the SaaS context, but in the discussion of transformative selling. Then it was there again in my non-profit work with our local school district and lastly in some work I've started on career transitioning from engineering to marketing. In all cases, my OPF (tm) Mindset framework has proven to be a quick and powerful way to both explain and leverage mindset as a way to understand and drive transformations in belief and action.

The OPF Mindset Framework:
Mindset is made of 3 components: Orientation, Perspective, Focus. In the OPF framework, each of these have a very specific definition.
  1. Orientation - My relationship and adjustment to the environment that I am in
  2. Perspective - My way of regarding/judging and interpreting facts
  3. Focus - Where I choose to concentrate my attention
Let's take a look at a couple of examples.

Example #1, The SaaS Mindset - As I blogged earlier, SaaS providers need to change their Mindset:
  • Orientation from Product to Service
  • Perspective from Spikey to Continuous
  • Focus from Transaction to Relationship
Without these changes, the incentive to drive the organizational requirements for success and the framework to make strategic choices will be flawed. I've seen many cases where ISVs have not succeeded with the transition to SaaS, not because of technical barriers, but because they failed to change mindset and therefore made poor organizational, resource and strategic choices.

Example #2 - Transitioning an educational institution. There has been a lot of talk in our schools about the pressure put on young students to perform to ever increasing pressure and academic standards. Tales of preschoool parents worrying about whether their preschool is the right feeder to the Ivy Leagues is now a cultural meme. Fighting this are documentaries like "Race to Nowhere" and "Waiting for Superman" which document the huge costs to our children and society of this over emphasis on achievement. Locally, I've been working with our elementary school on trying to raise "whole children" and what this means to the community. I believe that to succeed, we must redefine the communities mindset when it comes to their goals of the public school:
  • Orientation - From Curriculum to Learning
  • Perspective - From Achievement to Development
  • Focus - From "Teach to the test" to "Teach for life"
I firmly believe that if we can shift our mindset on our educational goals, we can actually not only raise healthier, happier children, but can actually improve our levels of achievement.

Example #3 - Transitioning careers from engineering to marketing. I work with a LOT of engineers, many who have marketing in their job titles. The #1 thing that separates those who successfully make this transition is those who change their mindset.
  • Orientation - From Technology to Business
  • Perspective - From Details to Big Picture
  • Focus - From Problem Solving to Solution Sharing
Engineers who fail to change their mindset are easy to spot. They have a hard time focusing on scale related business problems and solutions. They get trapped in "features and functions" and can't see the proverbial forest for the trees.

As you can see from above, the OPF Mindset framework can be applied to a wide set of transformations, from organization, to cultural to individual. So the next time you are faced with a transformation that is failing or struggling, step back for a minute and examine the Orientation, Perspective and Focus that you, your organization or team has adopted, and whether it is the right one for success, or anchored in your behaviors and beliefs of the past.

Happy Bridging - Ken


  1. Great article Ken. It's so often about shifting our frame of reference and with it, reframing the context from which we view the problem or situation.

  2. Thanks Margie! And having the courage to do it!!! :)