An Interview with Mette Ponty, Managing Director of Arbinger Scandinavia
A New York Times editorial on September 23rd asked, “What Was Volkswagen Thinking?”—perhaps the more appropriate question to ask is, “How Was Volkswagen Thinking?”
It’s the same question that could be asked of Bernie Madoff when he carried out his Ponzi scheme—bilking thousands of individuals and organizations out of tens of billions of dollars—or the executives at Enron when they engaged in systematic, fraudulent accounting practices that led the company into bankruptcy, wiping out over $50 billion in shareholder value and billions more in employee pensions.
What is it about how we’re thinking that leads us to behave in ways that, when viewed objectively by others, are simply unfathomable? Our worst selves are the selves who are focused inwardly—so consumed by our own objectives, goals, even our valid concerns—that we fail to recognize our impact on those who we affect. Outrageous, selfish behavior is a byproduct of an inward mindset—a way of being centered on self that is as self-sabotaging as the decisions that led to the capsizing of the Costa Concordia and the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
In the case of Volkswagen, with the mindsets of the company and its employees so inwardly focused on things like the company’s market share and individual advancement within the company, they willfully orchestrated a nearly decade-long deception regarding the polluting emissions of over 11 million of their vehicles. That inward mindset blinded them to the needs of their customers and the population at large and also blinded them to the potential costs, including a 30% drop in VW’s share price and billions of dollars in fines, recalls, class-action lawsuits, and lost sales.
The fact that Volkswagen has been functioning from an inward mindset may seem self-evident. But if that conclusion is so obvious, why do the solutions that are usually trotted out in situations like these —and which will no doubt be proposed now—seem to totally ignore that fact? The typical solutions, including additional government regulations, more rigorous oversight, new internal procedures and revamped organizational structures, may be well intentioned and may even have some temporary, palliative impact. However, these solutions ignore the fundamental issue and therefore don’t have impact over the long-term.
That becomes clear when one considers Volkswagen’s history of questionable dealings. In 1973, for example, Volkswagen was fined $120,000 for violating US pollution regulations by equipping its vehicles with technology to shut down their pollution control systems. In 2005, Volkswagen was rocked by a sex, bribery and corruption scandal among its executives involving millions of dollars in improper bonuses, kickbacks, bribes and prostitutes. The executives involved, of course, were either fired or resigned, and procedures were put in place to prevent future lapses at Volkswagen, but here the company is again with a scandal of even greater magnitude.
What is required now at Volkswagen is a serious, sustained effort to change the underlying mindset within the company from inward to outward. This shift happens when individuals and the groups they comprise begin to consider the needs, objectives and concerns of others—and adjust their own M.O. to address these.
Sound soft? Idealistic? Unrealistic? We’ve seen this shift happen countless times with immediate and significant impact.
Given the Volkswagen scandal, the most pertinent example may come from elsewhere in the auto industry. In 2006, the Ford Motor Company was very much an inward mindset company, characterized internally by organizational silos, turf wars, and lack of collaboration as well as externally by indifferent product quality. Not coincidentally, Ford was also on track to lose $17 billion that year. As a result of the turmoil, Ford hired a new CEO, Alan Mulally. Recognizing the impact that the inward mindset was having on Ford and its results, Mulally systematically went about transforming the venerable automaker to an outward mindset company. The result: Ford became a far more collaborative company with a far greater focus on customer needs, allowing it to rebound financially while being the only one of the Big Three US automakers not to need a government bailout.
The inward mindset, and all its trouble, can be overcome but only if the solutions on the table address it, not only band-aid its manifestations. An outward mindset creates not only better corporate citizens, but drives superior results. So let’s start fixing mindset.
Michael Lazan is Senior Vice President of The Arbinger Institute
Bob Morley, Arbinger’s Senior Vice President of Global Strategy, recently traveled to Asia with Arbinger Founder Terry Warner and his wife Susan. Below is a Q&A about their trip.
Q: Arbinger recently visited Asia on behalf of Arbinger. What was the purpose of the trip?
A: The trip had several purposes; one of them was to meet with the American Management Association with whom our Managing Director of Arbinger China has established a partnership within the region. I was also lucky enough to spend time with our Managing Director of Arbinger Southeast Asia, Senthiyl SSG in Singapore and visit with fifteen potential partners in Thailand and Japan. The main purpose of the trip in China was for Terry Warner, the founder of Arbinger, to speak with four different audiences that AMA had gathered and to introduce them to Arbinger. Terry ended up speaking to and meeting hundreds of people, it was an incredible experience.
Q: Sounds like quite the trip! What was your experience like with AMA?
A: Terry, Susan (Terry’s wife), and I were blown away by the way we were treated by AMA and their clients. We’re thrilled that Lawrence has developed that relationship. They also fed us super well—every meal was delicious! We visited Beijing, Ningbo, Wuxi and Shanghai, and we got to see some sights, too, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.
Q: How did the talks go? Did Arbinger resonate with attendees?
A: Throughout the trip, it was fascinating to talk to multiple attendees and clients from very different cultures who all had the same sense for seeing people as people and learning to do things in a different way. It transcended religious, political and even philosophical boundaries that you would typically see between cultures.
Q: What was it like sharing these experiences with Terry and Susan? What did you observe?
It was wonderful for Terry and Susan to be able to interact with people who have very carefully tried to live and understand Arbinger principles. Terry was visibly moved at times by people’s humble approach to trying to live with an Outward Mindset in a different way. We dined with some really wonderful people, and those dinners were some of the best times. Terry also had opportunities to meet with government officials and executives. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing Lawrence was—it was wonderful to see the effect that Arbinger has had on his clients in China. We’re so excited to pursue our shared mission there.
Q: If you had to pick one or two highlights of the trip, what memories really stand out to you?
There were two dinners that we had where trainers and clients just sat and talked with Terry and asked him questions. And you could tell it was super meaningful to Terry and to those we ate with. There were also a few days where my back got thrown out pretty bad, and Lawrence took me to a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. It was the first time I had ever had cupping therapy, and I was healed within two days!
Thirty-one years ago, Jo Berry received news that would change her life forever. A bomb had gone off at a Conservative Party conference in Brighton, England and Jo’s father, who was a conservative member of parliament, had been killed. The Irish Republican Army, though more specifically IRA member Patrick Magee, was held responsible for the bombing,
Following her father’s death, Jo knew she had a decision to make moving forward that would dictate her journey of healing and humanity. Last week, Jo Berry visited the Arbinger headquarters in Utah and presented at various engagements throughout the state, one of them being the Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University.
Watch the Jo Berry speech below to learn more about the decision she made moving forward.
Think getting along with your colleagues from 9-5 is a challenge? Try spending 24/7 in a daylight-free, compartmentalized microgravity laboratory equivalent to a six-bedroom house with an international crew of six people, traveling at a speed of five miles per second for half a year.
The International Space Station, though a product of the less-than collaborative Space Race of the mid-1950’s to the early 1970’s, has transformed in many ways from a notorious example of ultimate competition to a brilliantly inspiring example of ultimate collaboration.
Known as “the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken,” the ISS has been referred to as “the blueprint for global cooperation—one that enables a multinational partnership and advances shared goals in space exploration,” by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is partnered with Russia’s Roscosmos, Canada’s CSA, Japan’s JAXA, and the Europe’s ESA, including participation from eleven different European countries. Currently home to six astronauts from the United States, Russia, Turkmenia, Ukraine, Taiwan and Japan, it would seem that a collective outward mindset would be essential to the success of the crew and their research.
Back on terra firma, the politics of these very same countries are looking pretty inward when it comes to violent conflict in Ukraine and mounting tension between Russia and the United States. Just this week, headlines describing Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama’s encounters at the United Nations have included words and phrases like “diplomatic poker,” “awkward,” and “trading barbs”. Which begs the question, is there something about outer space that enables an otherworldly type of synergy?
Wrote NASA astronaut and former ISS resident Ronald J. Garan Jr. in his book The Orbital Perspective, “The ISS would not be the incredibly capable orbiting research facility it is today without either Russians or Americans, just as it couldn’t have been built without the Canadian arm used in its construction.” Garan goes on to say, “After mutual respect and understanding are achieved, it is possible to establish real, sincere relationships, which is the foundation of a solid long-term collaboration . . . Open collaboration encourages greater accountability, which in turn fosters trust.”
Arbinger believes that results like these aren’t otherworldly at all, but tangible and realistic victories that can happen at home, in our communities, at work and in the world (and in the cosmos) through the adoption of an Outward Mindset. Functioning with an Outward Mindset means that we’re open to and curious about the needs, desires, goals and objectives of those around us. Not only are we simply aware of these things, but we care about them, and choose to be alive to ways we can help others achieve their objectives. We view others as people rather than obstacles, vehicles or irrelevancies.
In the words of Garan,“If we adopt the same collaborative mindset and practices that got to the moon and back, and that built the International Space Station, we can . . . do much more.” To learn more about ways to launch your organization into lower costs, lower employee turnover, seamless communication, clear decision-making, and greater profitability, visit Arbinger.com today.
With an Outward Mindset, the sky’s the limit.
An Arbinger Institute Special Webinar on Collaboration
Join Senthiyl S S G, Managing Director of Arbinger Southeast Asia, and Alec Grimsley, Director of Arbinger United Kingdom, as they discuss collaboration and how to develop responsive, accountable and empowered workforces through the implementation of collaborative mindset culture.
One of the questions leaders need to consider is why they spend or need to spend a significant amount of time correcting others?
Wouldn’t the time spent correcting others be more productively utilized if our direct reports were to correct themselves?
The answer is a big YES!
The question then is how do we reduce the time needed or spent correcting others?
Many organizations try to recruit the right people so that they spend less time correcting and fixing problems.
While recruiting the right people is a key strategy, even with the right people many organizations are no where near optimizing the potential of the teams.
To optimize the individuals, leaders, and the teams potential, there is, I believe, an additional strategy that organizations need to consider seriously.
Create and sustain a strategy to heighten self-awareness in the team and invite people to start feeling deeply responsible for their impact on others.
When we empower individuals, leaders and teams to start feeling responsible for the impact they have on others, the naturally occurring outcome is that there is more ownership in the team, and higher levels of intrinsic motivation to do the right thing in more and more situations.
However, currently most of the self-awareness approaches are primarily “outside looking in.” These are either via feedback or profiling tools. The problem with these approaches is that they do not have the ability to provide the much-needed continuous moment-to-moment awareness that leaders’ and individuals need!
(1) Empowering individuals with a language to develop deeper feelings of responsibility for their impact on others and
(2) By embedding intuitive activities within our daily processes to heighten self-awareness, leaders, teams and organizations can dramatically optimize their time on focusing on results rather than on correcting others and fixing problems.
Arbinger’s books “Leadership and Self Deception” and “The Anatomy of Peace” suggests a powerful language and framework to heighten self-awareness. The rationale creates a fundamental shift in mindset that is a key component for heightening self-awareness.
– Senthiyl S S G, Managing Director, Arbinger South East Asia
An organization’s ability to achieve results is bounded by the prevailing mindset of the organization. For this reason, diagnosing and addressing an organization’s mindset is vital to improving its performance and results. Arbinger’s Mindset Audit is a tool that can be used for this purpose. Your responses to ten questions will suggest where your organization may currently rank on a continuum from Fully Inward Mindset to Fully Outward Mindset. Responses from larger numbers of people from your organization will give you more specific data. The Mindset Audit is designed to (1) offer you new insight into the current mindset of your organization, and (2) guide you to solutions for improving the prevailing mindset individually and collectively in order to accelerate organizational performance and results.
You may be aware that the new Second Edition of The Anatomy of Peace was released on July 13th. In connection with this book launch, Arbinger Founding Partner, Jim Ferrell, conducted a live webinar about the ideas in The Anatomy of Peace. Presenting concepts about conflict transformation that are fresh and practically helpful both for those who have already the book and those who have not, this sixty-minute webinar attracted and retained a huge audience. We think you will be very interested in what Jim had to say about conflict and how to resolve and transform it. Whether or not you have read The Anatomy of Peace, you will find his presentation to be fresh and interesting.
The new edition of The Anatomy of Peace contains thirty pages of new resources at the back of the book. These resources include new explorations of each of the frameworks in the book and two new “Going Deeper” sections that present and explain two new frameworks that are not contained in the book. One of these frameworks explains the different kinds of boxes we can carry, and the second illuminates how to get out of the box. In addition, we have prepared a complimentary Study and Discussion Guide as a companion to this edition.
Recently Arbinger released a new edition of one of its best sellers, The Anatomy of Peace. The new edition of the book features new content, more clarification throughout the book, and extended resources to help the reader to dive further into the frameworks and concepts presented in the book. To accompany this launch, and help readers grasp more profoundly the concepts, author and managing partner of the Arbinger Institute Jim Ferrell conducted a live webinar.
During the webinar Jim discussed the two mindsets that are addressed in the book; The Inward Mindset (a heart at war) and The Outward Mindset (a heart at peace). A central question in mainstream conflict study today has been, “Why do some sparks turn into fires, and others don’t?” Speaking obviously about people and their conflicts. During the webinar Jim asked a deeper question, “Why are there sparks at all?” How do we remove the sparks altogether, and what would that look like for our world? He spoke eloquently to the fact that at the heart of conflict is found in our mindset.
Jim explained that the Inward Mindset, a focus on self and achieving only personal objectives, is at the heart of conflict. When we are inward focused we don’t see others as they are, as people, thus our behavior toward them invites conflict. Jim goes onto explain that through a change in mindset we can get to what is called the Outward Mindset, a collaborative focus on the objectives and results of everyone else. When we are focused outward, we see others as people, and thus our behavior deflates and eliminates what would cause conflict.
Throughout the webinar, Jim offered practical tools through robust logical frameworks to help provide participants with sustainable solutions to their conflicts. Jim also spoke to the role Arbinger has in helping individuals and organizations change their mindsets from inward to outward.
Arbinger offers sustainable training solutions including; training, consulting, coaching, and implementation tools. We invite you to watch the webinar by following the link below, and then order a copy of the new edition of the Anatomy of Peace. Hopefully it will help you gain a deeper understanding of Arbinger’s work and find solutions to conflict.