How was Satya Nadella at school


Photo by Brian Smale and Microsoft, Creative Commons

Good change storytelling is fundamental if change processes are to succeed in companies. It starts with the story introducing the new in a believable way. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks about his family, his wife and his daughter and he talks about a book.

Microsoft is currently in one of the most remarkable change processes of our time. CEO Satya Nadella has been in office since 2014 and in that short time he has promoted Microsoft back among the most valuable companies in the world. At the center of his philosophy is a cultural change in the company, which should strengthen its innovative spirit.

The change begins with a story from one's own family

Growth mindset - this is the name of the core of the new dynamic learning culture. This is an academic concept that has been researched for 30 years. And so Nadella uses change storytelling to introduce it: He tells the company a story about himself. A story that already contains the central terms for management: model, coach, care.

Growth mindset. Infographic by Nigel Holmes.

In early 2015, he says, his wife gave him Carol Dweck's bestseller Mindset. The new Psychology of Success given. A book that helped her create a learning environment for one of her daughters in which she could overcome her learning difficulties.

People with a Fixed mindset operate, says this theory, orientate themselves more towards abilities that they already have. Then they choose their activities instead of risking challenges and perhaps failing because they need skills that they (still) lack.

People with one Growth mindset on the other hand, make it their program to learn new things, even though they realize that they will not immediately cope with the challenges they take on.

Change storytelling at Microsoft: 3 takeaways

  1. Find an idea that generates resonance. Satella leverages the powerful academic model of Carol Dwecks' growth mindset
  2. Connect the idea in a story with your own experience. Satella talks about his wife and himself who used the Growth Mindset to overcome their daughter's learning problems
  3. Embody the transformation. As part of the change process, Satella continues to tell all employees monthly personal growth stories via videos. They reflect the central management tasks: model, coach, care.

Dweck divides the world into those who are learning and those who are not. And she shows with various experiments that a growth mindset can help you measurably. In school, for example, this can be recognized by the grades. Anyone can train this mindset. And, says Nadella, what helped his daughter, he would also like to apply it at Microsoft. Motto: From Know-it-alls to Learn-it-alls.

Change storytelling at its best. Instead of putting an abstract concept over the company, a story. Let's try that. I have had good experiences with it. Not just anywhere, but in my own family, with my daughter. I'm not selling you a brilliant academic model that I only know from books and studies.

While this mindset is being transplanted step by step into Microsoft's corporate culture, Nadella continues to write his story. Every month he reflects in a video for all Microsoft employees, his top learning, the mistakes, the profits and the stories behind them. And so the Microsoft boss encourages everyone to participate in change storytelling by reflecting on what they have learned in stories.

You can also read my article on the personal change story.