Two Mindsets:

Mechanistic vs. growth


Robert M. Tomasko


How can you tell how well a company's workforce is prepared to grow?

Listen to the conversations around the water cooler for clues about what mindset is predominant.


How managers think about getting something done often determines what they actually do. Sounds straightforward, and it would be except that so much of how we think about things is hidden or taken for granted.

The best clues about how a situation is being, mentally, approached are found in the language used to describe it. How often have you heard expressions such as these:

  • "We're going to cut-over to the new organization tomorrow."
  • "Let's fix this problem so we can get back to business as usual. "
  • "We need to shut down this operation, and pour on a little more fuel over there."
  • "I can't afford any downtime . Get a consultant with the right tool kit over here ASAP.

You don't have to read too far between the lines to find the underlying theme in these common expressions: the company is a machine, a bundle of fine-tuned machinery.


A growth mind set is more dynamic than mechanistic. It finds expression in metaphors of movement, not stability. In growth-oriented companies, people talk about:

  • "Getting from here to there ."
  • "How fast can people come on board ?"
  • "We've a long way to go, now is the time to get moving ."
  • "The business seems stuck . Find someone who has been down this path before to give us some directions. "

Heavy use of language like this, throughout the organization, is a leading indicator that top line growth is on the way


© Robert M. Tomasko 2002



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