Mindset vs. Methodology

I gave a talk at the Rotman School of Management this morning on redefining operational excellence. We had an interesting discussion about how organizations with different divisions and types of employees could implement a mindset of excellence. Many of the comments were related to different divisions and groups of employees within the same organization not buying into the same vision because they had different customers or different motivations.

Pursuing excellence doesn’t mean that all divisions or employees do things the same way. Excellence is not necessarily about standardization. Here’s what it is about:

  • Communicating a desired outcome that the organization wants to achieve (eg. 80% customer retention).
  • Setting expectations within each division or group of employees on how each will contribute to achieving that desired outcome.
  • Identifying best practices from any of the divisions and determining how to apply them effectively across all the divisions.
  • Aligning the tactics being employed by front line people with the desired outcome of the organization.

That is the difference between a mindset and a methodology. With a methodology, you attempt to pick up a process or guideline and move it elsewhere. With a mindset, you first determine what you want to achieve, then you determine the fastest and most effective way to achieve it.

Which way does your organization behave?