Altering Mindsets: A Foundation For Creating Social Impact

2017-05-26
By: Mary Kay Delvo
Posted in: Reflections and Ideas

Increasingly, social impact is being prioritized into the missions of organizations. My original training is as a licensed social worker, so as you can imagine, I am all for positive social impact. I am concerned, that social impact is becoming just another buzz word driven by forces outside of the C Suite. When driven by forces external to the organization, solutions frequently become driven by external measurements. I am concerned the "human elements" are left out of the strategic equation. When I refer to "human elements", I am referring to perspective and mindset. One cannot ignore the human elements of a social process and still achieve socially-minded results.

If organizations were to tend to the human elements of their organization by increasing self-awareness, helping employees get out of their comfort zones, and incorporating constructive conversations into employees' daily methods of working together, wouldn't we already be creating social impact? When employees expand their perspectives as a part of their daily work, when employees learn how to have constructive conversations without polarizing and dividing, and when employees gain an ability to adapt their thinking, don't all those things inherently have a greater social impact?

If we want to positively affect our environment for increased sustainability, sharing of resources, increased health and wellness, community safety, education, peace, and constructive disagreement, what could possible get us there any faster? After all, social impact covers a broad swath, but doesn't all change come from within the human experience?

Mindset drives perspective,and mindset comes from attachments to a particular worldview, traditions, and values. Mindset is created through experiences and exposure. Mindset is also something people generally hold on to tightly. I urge those interested in bringing social impact into their business to revamp their work cultures. I challenge you to take a moment and evaluate your business for its existing mindset, perspectives which are no longer relevant or support your current goals, what the appetite for change is and how you will sustain and grow a shift in internal culture. More specifically, does your organizational culture allow for and incorporate new perspectives and processes for altering mindsets? If social impact is to take hold in organizations, then it must be fully embraced by those leading and working within the organization and their supply chains.

There is an old saying which applies here, "You can't fix a problem with the same mind that created it." So to find new solutions and alter how we define business impact, it would serve us well to place "altering mindsets" on the "to do" list.

Mary Kay Delvo is the owner of INspiring SIGHT and the Director of Ideation & Catalyst for Connect the Grey, both based out of Minneapolis. She specializes in helping businesses and organizations "Put a new lens on decision-making". Her work is driven by a cross-sector, systems-based and self-awareness approach with an emphasis in the area of human and emotional development. Please contact Mary Kay at mkdelvo@connectthegrey.com if you would like to discuss further.

charles esibikhwa edward
06/05/17 12:01:25AM @charles-esibikhwa-edward:

I agree with you Mary on the altering the mindset.But i tend to find the process of altering the mindset of someone who has a strong belief in something quite tedious and painstaking.Or do you have a model that works out the process to be vibrant and easy?


Mary Kay Delvo
06/05/17 07:28:57AM @mary-kay-delvo:

Thank you for your comment. I agree, mindset work can be tedious because they tend to be deeply ingrained.  While I do not have a single process that makes it easy or fast, I do customize my approach using a combination of creativity, group intention, critical inquiry, and my Four Lens Approach ©

The other component which increases the chance of success is that the organizations I work with have made the choice to bring me in and understand the process and expectations prior to beginning. I clearly layout the expectations of our work together so that my customer and I are both held accountable. In the context of a community, creating a shared vision allows the stakeholders to hold each other accountable and questions those who are not honoring the shared vision. I hope that is helpful. I am open to continued conversation on this.   Mary Kay 


John Hamerlinck
06/06/17 12:28:08PM @john-hamerlinck:

Hi, from a fellow Minnesotan, Mary Kay. I completely agree about the importance of mindset. I wrote a short piece on my website some time ago called, "Fixed Versus Growth Mindset." If you're interested, it is at https://leadingdifferently.com/2015/01/02/mindset/


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Mary Kay Delvo
About Mary Kay Delvo


Mary Kay Delvo is an experienced communicator, public speaker and systems strategist whose experience spans community affairs, public engagement, and working within and across complex systems. A catalyst to her core, Mary Kay loves to ask questions that encourage people to think about things from perspectives unlike their own. Mary Kay’s professional multiple-sector experience spans over two decades. Trained in social work, public relations, leadership and professional coaching, she has built her professional and emotional muscle working within and alongside complex systems including: County and state government, higher education, K-12 Education, agriculture and food systems, human services, non-profits, communities of faith, and bridging between urban and rural settings.








She received her B.S. in Social Work and B. A. in Public Relations from the University of North Dakota, her Master of Liberal Studies with a concentration in self-awareness in leadership from the University of Minnesota and her coaching certification from Learning Journeys International School of Coaching.








Mary Kay owns INspiring SIGHT where she works with communities and organizations to "Put a new lens on decision-making." and recently joined Connect the Grey as their Director of Ideation and Catalysts in May of 2017. mkdelvo@connectthegrey.com


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