Microsoft Experience 17: Embracing a Growth Mindset!

Oct, 05, 2017

UpSlide is happy to share with you some take-aways of Microsoft Experience 17 that took place in Paris October the 3rd ! In this high technological environment, the role of human beings in the digital revolution was a key topic.

Laurence Lafont (Microsoft France Marketing & Operations Director) immediately set the tone by showing the audience her Microsoft badge with her name on it and –this is not usual– the mission of the company: “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Technologies can relieve us from non-added value tasks and enhance our abilities, only if we allow them to do so! For that reason, Peggy Johnson (Microsoft VP Executive Business Development & Acquisitions – guest star of the event) insisted on the notion of mindset.

Peggy Johnson explained that a company like Microsoft, able to move from a box software to the cloud, has had to go through its own transformation journey, a “tough journey”. To keep up with the trends and be highly innovative, Peggy insisted on the incredible strength of a group of individuals when they are all going together in the exact same direction. She shared with us Satya Nadella’s advice to read “Mindset” from Carol Dwerck, professor of psychology at Stanford.

This book reveals that our set of attitudes is not fixed at all. Carol Dwerck splits us in two groups: those who have a fixed mindset and those who have a growth mindset. Fixed mindset individuals view their talents and abilities as fixed forever, their destiny is to go through life avoiding challenges and failure. On the contrary, growth mindset people imagine they are a constant work in progress! Challenges are therefore opportunities of growth.

That is why almost all the talkers at Microsoft Experience 17 have insisted on the importance of challenges and failure. Peggy Johnson shared that one of her biggest learning wasembracing failure”. At Microsoft, the culture allows failure as part of a test and learn approach toward breakthrough innovation. The important point is to fail fast & know how you react to that failure. Design thinking for example incorporates completely the notion of failure in the process.

We were thrilled to get some insight during the talk of Jelto Von Schuckmann on Design Thinking : this user centric approach focussing on doing and testing rather than thinking too much and do at the end. The idea is to stop “making people want things” and start “making things people want”. At UpSlide, we strongly believe in that way of working.

That is why our Microsoft Office add-in idea comes from real pain points we were experiencing ourselves! As former consultants, we could not stand anymore the loss of efficiency they were facing when copy-pasting and reformatting on Excel and Powerpoint. We started creating macros to help our teammates. Then we tested the prototype with early users : the virality of use of the prototype convinced us to code a real powerful software add-in. Design thinking does not stop there in a growth mindset framework: our users can still submit improvement ideas and we carefully analyse them. We keep on working with the five steps of a Design Thinking Sprint!

The last intervention we want to share with you is from Sophie Heller (Chief Operating Officer of Retail Banking & Services at a Major European Bank). She insisted on the fact that the “digitalization” of a company does not mean “dehumanization”. This echoes with Microsoft’s ambition to “amplify ingenuity” and it means for the bank: more efficiency at work, a smoother interface for the clients (reinventing their experience) and high performing data management. At this major bank, some countries like Belgium have decided to be “agile at scale”, meaning they push the implementation of new ways of working to the max.

All the teams face three obstacles when wanting to be agile: the acceleration of the cycles that is hard to get, the silos that need to be broken and the acceptance of the right to fail. Sophie Heller shared some tips on how to manage the change with the teams: deliver frequently to the client in order to improve more frequently their offer, set a pain point collection system & build a strong feedback culture.

On that last point, the growth mindset is highly needed, and this is challenging knowing that, as Sophie Heller mentioned, 80% of the population see themselves as “fixed” individuals and only 20% as “evolving” individuals (the ratios changes to 95%-5% in France!).

Maybe we all need to read “Mindset” now 🙂


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Author: Charlotte Leboucher