GIODN Official Blog
Situational Mindsets with Dr. Mary Lippitt
- June 19, 2020
- Posted by: Dr. Cindy Banyai
- Category: Thoughts
On May 6, GIODN hosted Dr. Mary Lippitt, daughter of the OD pioneer Gordon Lippitt, to discuss her new book Situational Mindsets. The historical context for her book is based on five topics, including the White Leadership study of 1939, the Lewin Change Model, National Training Labs and T-Groups, and Gordon Lippitt’s Organizational Renewal. Situational Mindsets connects these topics for the next generation of OD practitioners’ benefit.
Dr. Lippitt discusses the main components of Optimal Leadership. Traits of Optimal Leadership include a person’s characteristics such as integrity and honesty. The second component is personality and the third component are a person’s skills. Dr. Lippitt asserts there must be a fourth component in Optimal Leadership, situations. She states that no one ever looks at the situation they are facing, instead they focus on the other three components.Leaders must be able to look at a situation itself and be able to adjust because of the dynamic and fast world around us. Situations are becoming a fourth part of optimal leadership.
Each person has a dominant point of view. Dr. Lippitt uses the example of an object in front of someone’s face. No matter which eye they close, they will still see the object in front of them, despite using only one eye. However, there is a downside to having a dominant point of view. It is human nature to believe that everything seen in front of us can be handled that same way it was handled in the past. However, Dr. Lippitt believes it is important to look at every aspect of a situation and not let the dominant view take over. Situational mindset awareness is the practice of collecting data and mental agility based on current realities. It enables us to pivot when situations warrant, and it is how we successfully cope in an ever-changing world.
So, what are situational mindsets? Situational mindsets filter to collect data and guarantee against blind spots. For example, Blockbuster had a chance to buy a company like Netflix but they turned down the offer. Now, Netflix is doing great and there is only one Blockbuster franchise left. A Situational Mindset is the objective examination of current realities and the evaluations of what must happen first to solve a situation. Dr. Lippitt points out that in solving an issue, everything cannot be solved at the same time. As a successful problem solver, the most critical issue must be evaluated first.
In her book, Situational Mindsets, Dr.Lippett uses the example of Kate Hollander and Davis Printing. Hollander became the VP of sales as a former medical sales director and recent army medic. Two on staff at Davis Printing wanted her job, which caused conflict on the team. The former VP was fired because he was too weak, and sales were crashing. Sales were lagging because of industry competition, minimal digital footprint, transactional approach and late deliveries (even when employees promoted rushed delivery). Late deliveries caused sales and production teams to clash and not work well together. The owner of Davis Printing is a micromanager and. financially conservative. He wants Kate Hollander to deliver faster results and is uncomfortable with her lack of printing experience. From a problem-solving standpoint, which issue should be tackled first? Is it team building? Sales coaching? Sales and production collaboration? Building digital presence? Or strategic planning? These are all questions we must consider before choosing the most relevant issue.
There are six different situational mindsets and companies need to juggle each of them. Inventing is the development of new products and services, fresh design, and synergies. Catalyzing is gaining and retaining key customers, building a brand and fast responses. Developing is seamless infrastructure, setting goals creating, systems and defining policies. Performing is streamlining processes, improving quality, efficiency and ROI. Protecting involves developing talent, creating high performing culture and engaging teams. Lastly, Challenging is addressing emerging needs, evaluating risks and leverage opportunities. Dr. Lippitt broke down the six situational mindsets using the current circumstances of COVID-19. The investing aspect would involve medication or treatment and a vaccine. The catalyzing component is serving the needs of health care workers and ill patients. Developing includes improving procurement of PPE and ICU beds. Performing during COVID-19 involves testing and evaluating incoming data. Protecting during COVID-19 means reducing the infection rate through social distancing. Finally, the challenges of COVID are preparing to re-open the economy in the future and preparing for a second strike. As a leader, choosing which obstacle to tackle and solve first is critical.
Dr. Lippitt discusses the importance of recognizing that no one person has all of the answers and emphasizes the need to ask other questions to examine current circumstances. We can examine such by asking if there is collected comprehensive data. How are opportunities, risks and impact with key contributors analyzed? How are vital outcomes and goals discovered? Mental agility is the ability to pivot from one pint of view to another when situations warrant shift. Having an open mind welcomes other perspectives. Ralph Waldo Emerson once described Confirmation Bias with the quote: “People only see what they are prepared to see.”
How do you find out what is driving somebody else? Detecting Situational Mindsets involves asking what the overriding goal is, what results must be achieved first, what challenges the person is facing and even what keeps them up at night. By asking these questions, we will receive objective data and can look forward to knowing how to influence the person.
You can learn more about Situational Mindsets by watching the entire video of Dr. Mary Lippitt’s presentation for GIODN here.