Boost Innovation | Culture Meets Technology

Killing Culture: 4 Ways To Prevent Damage From Halfway Teaching Vulnerability, Empathy & Growth Mindset (Based on Data)

killing culture from boost innovation

The initial question is probably how these things could possibly be killing culture when the work is so important and effective. In recent years there has been a lot of spectacular research done by the likes of Brené Brown, Carol Dweck, Jeremy Rifkin and many more that is changing the world of group culture and performance, so what could be so bad about it?

What Do We Mean By “Halfway Teaching”?

For the purposes of developing an understanding of risk, we wanted to use a lens that was clear to describe what we mean. We are not discouraging broad and deep education of these (and other) important concepts in both sport and the workplace AT ALL.

In fact, we do it all the time ourselves.

However, halfway teaching of these concepts are killing culture when ALL of the of the following conditions are not present:

We will break these down in order of least common mistake to most common mistake from our experience in business and sport organizations of all sizes.

boost innovation killing culture stat 1

How Not Displaying Concepts Is Killing Culture

Awareness building allows the people within a group to build interest and connection to new concepts both consciously and subconsciously. Additionally, the incorporation of new concepts must support all styles of learning, so displaying concepts does actually help to turn ideas into action.

When new concepts are displayed, members of an organization are 2x more likely to have an understanding of the definition of that concept.

boost innovation killing culture stat 2

How Not Defining Concepts Is Killing Culture

This is the second least common mistake we see. Many of the organizations that implement vulnerability, empathy, growth mindset, and more do an acceptable job of this. As we go in to work with business and sport teams we see them defining what the concepts mean. This is an important step because it gives the clear understanding of what the concept is and, perhaps most importantly, is not.

When terms are not defined clearly and simply, our data shows there is a less than 30% chance that the concept will see widespread adoption.

boost innovation killing culture stat 3

How Not Discussing Concepts Is Killing Culture

It continued to shock us that the second most common way we see culture damage from halfway teaching concepts is through a lack of discussion of concepts. The most common pattern of new concept adoption we see is:

  1. Define the concept.
  2. Display the concept.
  3. Nothing.

The ongoing discussion, especially by leadership, of concepts is a key concept. It needs to be authentic in order to connect with those they lead, but when these discussions happen regularly it makes a real impact. On top of leaderships discussion, encouraging discussions amongst peers by prompting allows for significant change. Something as simple as:

“Discuss with a peers how we can build growth mindset into our practice today.” or “Share with one of your coworkers something that positively impacted your day so far today”.

When these kind of multi-layer (peer to peer and leader-based) discussions, we see an increase in new concept adoption of as much as 63%.

boost innovation killing culture stat 4

How Not Developing Concepts Is Killing Culture

Finally, the most rare tool used when we implementing new concepts is the development of it. We’ve seen time and time again that the lack of development of concepts is where the impact of new concepts like vulnerability, empathy, growth mindset, and more is really killing culture.

Development can only happen if data based measurement is used to see how the implementation is going, and where more work needs to be done. Skipping this key step is an obvious mistake.

The second, and lesser known, way that the lack of development is killing culture is by how it impacts trust. When a new concept is defined, displayed, and discussed but not developed, the members of the group often begin to lose trust in the organization and those who lead it.

When vulnerability, empathy, and growth mindset are not adequately developed over time, perceived organizational trust drops by as much as 28%.

Don’t Risk Culture By Skipping Steps

As we said, all four steps in adoption of new concepts are important in order to increase the likelihood of success. No one aspect is more important than another and it is vital not to ignore the least common steps of discussion and development.


Find ways to measure, build, and discuss culture more effectively by visiting the Boost Innovation website now.

All data in this article is from the work of our GRW Project and FLW Project from 2019 to 2020. It includes more than 20 different businesses and sport teams.

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