Set your mindsets, and stick to them

Set your mindsets, and stick to them
Photo by nikko macaspac / Unsplash

We’ve recently been doing some research on remarkable companies and their operating systems.

What makes them unique? What makes the system work? How do they improve?

One operating system we’ve been obsessed with lately is the Danaher Business System (DBS for short).

Danaher is a holdco/conglomerate focused on acquiring and improving companies in Life Sciences, Diagnostics, and Environmental Solutions. The DBS is their secret sauce. It’s a mindset and culture, and employees are rigorously trained in its nuances – which are always evolving and improving – so that they can bring the DBS to new acquisitions.

The level of commitment to a centralized, universal process for value creation at Danaher is second to none, and the returns (as compared to the S&P 500) are impressive. To that end: leaders are measured and bonused on business performance and Leading Through the DBS. Intense!

The amazing thing about the practical application of of the DBS is the number of practical training modules available – these training modules reinforce three core ideas that hold Danaher’s varied acquisitions together: The best team wins; Innovation defines our future; We compete for shareholders; Customers talk, we listen; Kaizen is our way of life. Danaher refers to these as values, and values are concepts that employees either believe in or don’t.

The level of the belief in those beliefs, mindsets, or values is what matters.

With that in mind, I recently published a piece on Forbes focused on beliefs suited to today’s chaotic business environment. We love these mindsets and use the at Black Glass, but we’d encourage you to a) clarify what you believe, b) write it down, and c) build and activate systems that reinforce your beliefs.

With that, here’s an excerpt from my piece:

1. Today’s Chaos Is Just Practice For Tomorrow


  • Don’t just deal with it as a leader. Start viewing disruptions as valuable learning experiences that build resilience and adaptability within your organization.
  • Once you have navigated through a chaotic moment, take a moment to create a playbook for the future.
  • Use retrospection with your team to find out the specific things that worked and the things that didn’t.

2. Adaptivity Is A Learnable Skill


  • Social and business safety nets are key, so employees can learn with less fear. (Imagine learning to trapeze without a net. You just wouldn’t do it.)
  • Encourage your employees to challenge their comfort zones, experiment with new approaches and learn from setbacks to develop the skills and strategies necessary for navigating change effectively.
  • Rotate employees through key areas. Have junior employees participate in high-level strategy and senior employees take customer service calls.
  • Speed up feedback cycles and create a shared method for “making bets” as a company.

3. Poor Documentation Equals Bad Training Data


  • Let go of the belief that only certain information is worth documenting and instead recognize the value of comprehensive (yet simple) documentation for maximizing the potential of your team.
  • Ensure your employees have access to every bit of the collective intelligence of your team.
  • When in doubt, write it down.

4. Transparency Mints MBAs


  • Abandon the idea that withholding information from employees is beneficial for the organization.
  • Instead, encourage employees to ask questions and engage in dialogue about decision-making processes to help them better understand the rationale behind choices and develop their decision-making skills.
  • Get rid of the “need-to-know basis” wherever you can.

5. Bad Purpose Equals Bad Outcomes

Tip (just one!)

  • Take the time now to reassess the purpose of your organization and let go of any unclear or inconsequential intentions. Repeat it daily in conversations with your team.

Go to Forbes to read the full piece!

Council Post: Five Leadership Mindsets For Navigating Organizational Complexity: Rethinking Chaos And Opportunity
How reimagining chaos, adaptability and collaboration can lead to a more resilient and successful organization.