What You Need for Organizational Success

A Fast-Paced Reality

A saying we frequently hear in the halls of Ameriflex is some version of, “The only constant around here is change.” There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s an acknowledgment of how we run things here, and second, it’s an attempt to mentally prepare the audience and probably the speaker too, for the reality that we live in: a world that is changing faster than we can adapt to it.

Asymmetric Risk-Reward

Coordinating efforts of multiple people in attaining a common goal requires more agility than ever before. In this reality, the odds of success are lower, but that’s no reason to have a self-defeating mindset. You see, in exchange for more uncertainty, if we’re smart, we get something I like to call asymmetric risk-reward, a situation in which the potential benefit outweighs the consequences of the risk (of failure).

Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for this, as some of the world’s smartest (and richest) investors made their fortunes off it. Dr. Peter Attia is a physician and longevity researcher who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He describes it in this fascinating podcast (at 1:58:00) in the medical context, which I’ll summarize.

Strategic Failure

The decision about whether to take a medication or not is cost/benefit analysis. You want to be picking up gold coins in front of a tricycle, rather than picking up pennies in front of a bulldozer.  The world we live in now is ripe with opportunities for small failures and massive but improbable rewards (lots of gold coins in front of lots of tricycles). This means you must set yourself up to take lots of small risks well, AND pick the small risks that magnify your success toward that mission.

Doing this means you have to fail a lot, fail fast and learn from your mistakes. There are libraries of books on this topic now, but a quick and dirty appraisal of the concept is articulated by Jeff Bezos at 0:05:15.

Importance of Mindset
Okay, so you already know all this stuff. How do you do it? I don’t have all the answers, but I can give you the 20 percent that will get you 80 percent of your results: Find and cultivate people with a “growth mindset,” and make your atmosphere very uncomfortable for those who have chosen a “fixed mindset.” It’s based on Carol Dweck’s now famous research, as she actually coined these terms.

“Fixed Mindset”

Someone with a fixed mindset often resists change, struggles with feedback, approaches novel ideas with a default position of “no,” always needs to be right, and are highly risk-averse. They believe their abilities and traits are largely fixed, so whether they realize it or not, they resist on principle what is largely necessary to be successful solving novel problems.

“Growth Mindset”

People with a growth mindset are highly adaptable. They welcome feedback, embrace challenges, love other people’s ideas/perspectives, and try new things. Why? Because they believe they aren’t stuck with the cards they are dealt. In fact, they believe they can get better at things. On principle, their default position is that they can accomplish anything and learn anything until proven otherwise.

If you can create a culture that attracts the open mindset and repels the closed mindset, and you have a reasonably good vision of the future, you’ll solve meaningful problems and create a lot of value for yourself and others.

But How?

That’s a bit trickier. The good news is growth vs. fixed are a continuum, and people can change. I’m going to borrow from Eve Grodnitzky, a psychologist and consultant who helps businesses implement this.

How have we done this at Ameriflex? 

Well, candor is one of our values. In all candor, we, like most organizations, have plenty of work to do. That said, we’ve made a heck of a lot of progress over the past couple of years. For one thing, we’ve thrown a lot of change at the organization. This is part external environment, and frankly, part who we are as an organization. But it does a great job making closed-mindset people uncomfortable in a hurry. 

As Warren Buffett says, “It’s only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Secondly, we’ve put some intelligence into talent acquisition process. We now put every candidate through a battery of aptitude and personality tests, and for critical positions, we run simulations of life at

Ameriflex, rather than rely solely on behavioral interviewing techniques. 

Finally, we set aggressive goals for our organization and our people, but whether we hit the goals or not, we’re happy campers. If we improve what we measure and if we learn valuable lessons in the process, we take that as a win for Ameriflex.

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