Making Your Mind-set More Flexible

Last week I discussed the top mind-sets that we bring to work. For those of you who like things defined, here goes -- mind-set is "a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you interpret and respond to situations."

Most of us bring some habits to work regularly. After doing a lot of interviews and research, I came up with five. What I like to call the Five Ms: machine, military, motivation, measurement and entrepreneurship. OK, that last one is not an "M" word. I put it in because that is one of the problems with mind-sets -- they tend to lock us in to a limited way of viewing the world.

According to your votes, the mind-set that you most often bring to work is machine. Thirty-five percent of you chose it. Next was military, with 27 percent, followed by motivation, the choice of 17 percent. Measurement (15 percent) and entrepreneurship (6 percent) filled the fourth and fifth slots.

Each of these mind-sets served a purpose at one time. The problem is that they tend to live on long past the point at which they continue to provide value. Take the top response, machine. A smooth-running machine is a very effective metaphor for running a business. The problem? Machines don't do so well when it comes to creativity and initiative. And those are two things that most businesses can't do without today.

In addition, all the mind-sets share two basic problems. First, they tend to struggle when it comes to handling complexity. A new competitor, a worker shortage or a lawsuit against your company aren't things that any of the "five Ms" can really cope with. The problem is that today's workplace is all about complexity.

But there is an even bigger problem -- control. All these mind-sets do best when there is a heavy hand running the show. And that heavy hand may have helped make the trains run on time 60 years ago, but today many businesses are starting to realize that the brains of their people are a terrible thing to waste. So rather than trying to produce a certain result from people, more organizations realize hey have to create a place where the best efforts can flow out of people.

So we need to develop a new mind-set, one that gives more control to the people who actually do the work. And it's not for some soft-headed share the wealth idea, but because organizations need to extract everything they can from their people's hands, heads and hearts (and that will be the last bit of alliteration for this column).

Ultimately I'm not going to try to sell you on exactly what new mind-set to adopt. My point is simply that we need to become more aware of the mind-set we bring to work each day and not forget creativity and control as we go along our journey at work. Just realizing this should help us better navigate our workday more successfully.


"No more good can be attempted than the people can bear." -- Thomas Jefferson


From "Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel" by Scott Adams

"Someday you might be forced to do a business analysis in order to get what you want. The word 'analysis' is formed by the root word 'anal' and the ancient Greek word 'ysis,' 'to pull numbers from.' That's a good description of every business analysis I've ever seen, especially the ones I wrote."

Blog Ballot Results

Here are the results from a recent Working Wounded Blog/ online ballot:

Which mind-set do you encounter most often at work?

   Machine, 35 percent

   Military, 27 percent

   Motivation, 17 percent

   Measurement, 15 percent

   Entrepreneurship, 6 percent

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, an internationally syndicated columnist, popular speaker, and a recent addition to the community of bloggers. He welcomes your comments at

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.