Superkinetics Interview with Andreea Havrisciuc

Welcome to the Superkinetics Podcast.

This episodes guest was Andreea Havrișciuc, Agile Domain Manager at METRO.digital Romania and an OKR evangelist.
She coaches the organization, teams, and individuals to understand, implement, and live culture with purpose through OKR and Lean-Agile mindset, principles & practices with the mission to grow leaders.
Her vision is to enable purpose-driven leaders to change the world.

Here you can find the separate sections of this interview

  1. Andreeas definition of mindset (01:37)
  2. Why an outcome mindset so important (06:23)
  3. How to build an outcome mindset (11:14)
  4. How the right mindset can help to overcome failure (18:51)
  5. The importance of self reflection (24:50)
  6. Show notes: Role models, inspirational quotes, and books

Transcript "How to build an outcome oriented mindset"

Johannes:

Welcome back to a new episode of Superkinetics. Today's guest is Andrea Havrișciuc, she is someone you might already know, as she already joined us in one of our previous episodes, the one we did on the OKR forum in Amsterdam last year. Besides that, she will also be a speaker on our second Workpath quarterly later, I think in Q1. Andrea is an agile domain manager at METRO-Digital in Romania, a company that we at Workpath are very excited to work with. And you could say that she's an OKR evangelist. She coaches the entire organization, teams, individuals to understand, implement, and live a culture of purpose through OKRs, and a lean, agile mindset. And she has the mission, as she says, to develop and help growing leaders that ultimately can change the world. My name is Johannes, and I'm the CEO and founder of Workpath.

Andreea:

Thank you Johannes for such a kind introduction. I'm happy to be here again with you and a warm hello to our listeners.

Johannes:

Welcome back. Before we start with our interview, I’d also like to remind all of you, the audience to follow us on Spotify on Apple Music or any other streaming service and maybe even leave us a subscription or a recommendation. That always means a lot and is a big support for us. So Andrea, today we would like to talk about the whole topic of mindset. It's a big topic, it's sometimes a hard to grab topic, some might say a little bit fuzzy. But I think the right mindset is so important when leading people, when developing an organization, and particularly when talking about organizational change, about transformation mindset, or as some might also say, culture and values. That is the sum and the mix of individual mindsets in a larger team is a core topic. Maybe you can share your point of view on how would you define mindset? Because you've been working on implementing new steering and collaboration processes like with OKRs, you made this experience over and over again. How important is mindset? So what's your definition of mindset? And what experiences did you make in the correlation or the interdependencies between a new process, a new way of working, a new framework that you might want to implement, and the mindset of the people, the mindset that is dominating in an organization before you start your change and the journey that you want to be on? 

Andreea:

Yeah, indeed it is a complex topic. And I'm coming here to share with you where I am on the topic. First time I heard about the concept of having a right mindset, and actually started to think about it was a couple of years ago in METRO-digital during a self organized teams workshop. And there we went through an exercise where the trainer wanted to demonstrate us something and then introduced us to a visualization regarding fixed mindset and growth mindset. It's the model of Carol Dweck. And it was the first time I realized I was seeing myself in the fixed mindset. And I was wanting to move towards the growth mindset. So what was fixed mindset for me back then? I was afraid of feedback. For me feedback, and candid radical candor feedback was a way to block me. I was like in my comfort zone and stopped any situation where I should get out of it. When I saw people knowing more than me, I was a bit afraid that I will be replaced. And I was thinking about myself that I'm good at certain things. Back in the days, I was a QA engineer and I didn't even envision the path I went through until this actual moment and what I discovered in the growth mindset and somehow after this, we will have a definition. It was the relaxation to be open to learn new things to treat feedback as a gift that you take and do something with it. But it's a gift and something helpful for you to take any opportunity to learn if you don't know anything. If there is somebody that gets you out of the comfort zone, you simply learn through your way. So how I see mindset at the moment and Dana Scranton, a researcher of mindset did it very well, so I will simply express this: mindset is your mental operating system and it provides clarity for vision, for thoughts, for actions and in the end for the results and also facilitates and helps you adapt to change, and in the end promotes growth in your life in multiple areas. So, this clarity, part, adaptability to change, and the happiness to grow in areas from your life for me is the right mindset. Now the question is, how mindset is connected to processes, to people, to organizations, how psychology is connected to what we do as work and in the end as a result. I went through at least two transformations in our organization. I was leading the OKR transformation back in the days, and also I was part of the Agile transformation. And what I discovered is, it's so important how people perceive change. Usually people that have a fixed mindset like processes. They want the next step, and they ask you: please just tell me what to do. For them, the process is really, really important. People that have a growth mindset use the process to reach a goal, and they embrace change. They embrace emergent processes, and the ones that are adaptable. So for me, METRO digital as a complex organization requires emergent adaptable processes. So that's why for me, it's very important that my colleagues and the people I work with have the right mindset in the end to be in this type of company.

Johannes:

Understood, yeah. If we dig a little bit deeper here, we've been talking about OKRs in one of our previous conversations, by the way, we will make sure to also put a link into the show notes of this episode, if you want to hear our previous talk with Andrea where, we've been talking about OKRs and how this new framework for goal setting, for collaboration, for more outcome focused ways of planning and working - how this can be implemented, and how important mindset is. Maybe you can elaborate a little bit more on that, right. So a couple of goals, a couple of intentions that organizations introducing OKRs have is usually they want to get from a point where they plan output, they rather want to plan outcomes. I think another one would be to move from a long term perspective where it's more about controlling goals, controlling individual performance to a setup where you have short cycles, high frequency of planning, learning, adapting. So those will be two examples of what organizations that introduce OKRs try to strengthen and make part of their operations and their organizational operating system. Why is mindset, the individual mindset, your mental operating system, so important in order to succeed with those?

Andreea:

Such a complex question. Let's see how to tackle it. You talked about how an organization implements processes and frameworks. And on the other hand, because we talk about OKR, why outcome is so important. And for me, outcome is output with purpose, with intent. Usually, we make output the black sheep of the company. No, we don't do outputs, we only do outcome. But in the end, what's valuable there is the intent. It's the purpose, the why behind the things you do. So Metro Digital when implemented the OKR framework - and we'll talk a bit later about framework and process - at least in my perspective, had this intention to not only get busy in our day to day activities, but to really have focus, have alignment, and create value for our customers. For us, customer centricity is essential, we want to create value for the customer not to get busy everyday with tasks and work, and the OKR framework helped us to reach that. The other part that we wanted to achieve was to really measure our success and to look realistically at what we do to uncover the gaps to uncover that things that we don't do properly and in the end to fix them. So for that  you need a strong mindset to really acknowledge that, for example: You're not data driven, you didn't measure your work in the past, or you did some action that didn't have the proper results or the proper outcome. This mindset is really the one that we wanted to reach. And let me tell you, it was not easy. I mean, even now, when we work with OKRs. Since a couple of years, there is this tendency of going back from framework to process especially for people that do not understand the purpose and do not understand the vision for them. It's the meaning behind our work is not there yet. So usually, in this context, the framework of OKR is understood as a process and as a burden for people. So to sum it up a bit. I favored the word framework when we talk about OKR Because framework is an approach. Is an approach that has a structure, but gives you space to adapt. When you talk about the process, and we talk about the process, even in the company, when we talk about OKR, usually people envision some steps, something which is linear. You go from A to B to C to D, and then you reach your goal. And this is not the purpose of why we use objectives and key results. So, somehow, we wanted to create this mindset of autonomy to empower people, and in the end to have customer centricity at the basis of our work. And now parentheses: (Johannes. If you feel something is not that structured, please tell me and I will create a sum-up.)

Johannes:

No, I think it's good. As I said in the introduction, it is naturally a big topic. And let's try to get some light and structure into it together. I think you already gave me my favorite quote for today. Outcome is output with intent. I think that's a very strong and simple statement that actually is pretty much delivering the essence of what most organizations with their strategic planning, with their steering models are lacking. And why not just teams? I mean, we have historically high numbers of employees that share in surveys that they don't know what the company strategy is and why they're there and what their contribution is. So they don't experience purpose, in any sense at work. And they also don't know what's actually the outcome, what's the business value, the outcome they are contributing to. So there's less identification, there's less engagement and retention, which I also think 2021 marks a historic high in attrition, and people leaving their employer. So I think, talking about a super relevant topic here and I see that this is something that bothers and yeah, creates still a lot of like, friction and question marks in actually all big companies that are going through these large transformations. Everyone knows something has to change. But where do you start? Do you change a culture and then once the culture has changed, new processes, new ways of working will happen? I think everyone knows that this probably won't work, right? After 120, 130 years of working in the industrial age now just waiting for a new culture. Most companies don't have that time. But what is your point of view here? Like I think, in contrast to a process, you cannot just learn mindset. Yeah, it has to develop, it has to be, like shaped over time, it's being built on the individual and the team experience usually, what do you think what strategy can be used, what tactics can be used to speed up that process and guide the way of developing a new mindset, alongside the new process, maybe to cluster it in what a company can do, what an individual can do, and what leaders can do for those individuals. 

Andreea:

So what the company can do and did it for me, is actually something that I think undermines it a lot. How important is the company to shape even a person as a whole? I've learned about values, mission, vision culture, in METRO Digital, not outside the METRO Digital. And when I anchored myself in, okay, this is the vision of my company, this is the mission, these are the values, I like them, I identify with them, then my personal life changed, because now I have my values. And I have my mission, and I have my vision. But this is because I've learned it in the company. So framing the culture, giving the pillars, the foundation pillars for a person is extremely important to set a right mindset. Now, if you as an individual would like to maybe accelerate or develop. What I discovered for me is that the first step is always awareness. If you are not aware of something, you will not change it. And if you're not self aware of things you need to change, you will not do that. It's even the first step in emotional intelligence. So everything starts with awareness, how to create that awareness as an individual? There are different ways. And I can give some examples. Ask for feedback. Whenever you deliver something, whenever you have a difficult conversation, you solve something, you develop something, you need to go ask for feedback to the people around you and be open for that. Ask for help. When you struggle to learn something, don't don't just stay there and lose a lot of time. Ask for help and have the braveness to be a beginner. Something that helped me really was to identify the sweet spot between four elements. What are my values? So what is important for me? What is my passion? What I like to do because it's important to do things I like. What are my skills, so what I'm good at, and they can bring value to the company, and what is my purpose? What is the meaning behind all these things? So if I identify all of them, and I take this time to sit a bit, to sit and see what's important for me and how I can help the company, indeed, my self awareness grows, and then my development, I will say it again, not because I'm a fan of OKR, but set up goals and measure them. I use them in my personal life. And I see how struggling it is to really focus on your goal, really measure your results, reflect, inspect and adapt weekly, if you can, or how you want it, just to sit with your goals. Ask yourself, Okay, did I do progress? What I need to do more? All the steps that are in the end a framework, or if you want a process will help you to grow in your mindset. And what I consider important and I do it with myself is celebrate the progress. I have a goal in my life regarding health. And I'm simply struggling there to find a way to move forward. And any small improvement for me is a moment of celebration, it's important to acknowledge that, and then to take that enthusiasm to go further. So this would be some advice. And one last advice is: Be aware that you have the right to your space, take space to think about values, take space to define your goals, take space to ask for feedback. It's not only in between your daily work, but isn't it a main part of your development?

Johannes:

Yeah, particularly one thing you said that strongly resonates with me is like a step that I think many organizations tend to skip or underestimate. It's introducing new frameworks, new processes, before they've actually defined and communicated a lot, in a best case, open and integrative way, like, who do we want to be talking about? Like, who are we right now? What made us successful in the past? Why are we what we are? What are our values? Traditionally? What has made us successful in the last decade? And why potentially, not all of this will help us be successful in the next decade? What has to change? What's our vision of our organization, of our principles? In 2, 3, 5, 10 years? Why is that relevant? Why does the market expect us to change that way? Why do we have to change that way, in order to be successful, and to keep all these jobs to create new jobs, and to actually create value for the customer in a competitive way? I think that is really the key, what you describe as a foundation as a pillar. And once you have that kind of clarity, and that is like a continuous communication job, that takes years and it has to be repeated over and over again. I think it's a good rule of thumb that I'd like to tell in our leadership training. It's like, you really, as a leader, communicating that and facilitating that kind of dialogue, you need to really get sick of yourself saying the same things and triggering the same kind of dialogues. And only once you feel like I cannot say, like keep saying that over and over again. That's the point when they'll slowly arrive in the organization, that that's just how communication organizations work. So I think that that is like a key step. And if you have that foundation, it's so much easier to help teams adapt the new process, because it's not a means to an end, it's not a thing that the company does because others are doing it or just because any consultancy brought it or the leader wants this, because it's just a help. It's a tool that helps bringing those principles and these kind of changes to life first. But I think it's also easier to - on that journey from today to tomorrow - to use this as a tool for sense making and for like, in Germany we would say, Standortbestimmung, like an analytical tool, like, where are we on that journey? Did we make a step forward or backward? Because it's, I think it's clear and you've been talking about in the past as well, those changes, these new processes or change of mindset, that doesn't just happen from today to tomorrow. It's a very iterative process with successes, but also with setbacks. And I think if you have that kind of foundation, you can always look at the situation in the now. For example, if a certain part of the process does not work, is not adapted. If you have pushback if you have skepticism, and you can usually use that foundation for sense making and you can reflect back like, look, this new process, it's not working because it's supposed to bring new principles and values into our way of working together. But our old ways of doing it, our own principles and cultures that have been successful in the past that are still very present, they sort of are standing in the way. They are making us not succeed with the new process. I think that kind of sense making is critical. That's the key learning moment that you need to facilitate and provoke on a continuous basis if you want to have sustainable change. So I very much like the way you put it, talking about foundation vision, first, awareness, I cannot agree more to that, like lots of communication. And then also celebration, like promote the pioneers, promote those that are actually succeeding with that and make also the small step happen. Because as I said, like many of these organizations we're talking about here have decades of history and huge success in the past, it's very hard to accept that success and the recipe for success is changing so fast within just a couple of years. So you have to take your space, you have to take your time and slowly adapt. That's the only way of doing it. I think that strongly resonates with what we are seeing on the market with most of the big organizations that are on the journey. How like you briefly touched it, but that's something I'd like to go back to is like, in many cases, these processes don't work in the intended way in the beginning, right? You briefly talked about growth mindset. But maybe we can speak a little bit more about how a new kind of mindset, how a growth mindset can help you getting over failure and how you in Europe, particularly trying to moderate that? Because I think you're constantly in situations where teams or leaders come back to you like this didn't work, or my team doesn't want to do this anymore. We don't get the value out of this, like, how can your growth mindset help getting over failure? How does it help you moderating and how can teams potentially benefit from that kind of mindset when stumbling into situations where the new process might not immediately create value for everyone?

Andreea:

Oh, I like that question. Especially that, I think since a couple of weeks, and last Workpath quarterly, I was talking about failure and how to treat failure in the company. For me, failure is a way people can learn something. So as a leader, I have the opportunity to teach them growth mindset through their failure. I can say, okay, it's safe for you to fail, go beyond and above. But it's essentially how I react when the failure happens. So what I would do is place in your company mechanism that help people get unstuck. For example, inspect, ask the hard questions, what happened, how we can learn of it, inspect the situation, frame it, frame it as an experience. For me, if a step in a process is failed, that is not a failure, because the goal is not the process, the goal is the goal. So our target, our aim is to reach our goal in a valuable way. And if they are stuck in a step, or they failed a step in the process, for me, it's important to frame it like this: Keep your eyes on the goal, the process is there to help you. If the process is a rock on the road, and it's not a vehicle, then let's adapt the process. Let's make it emergent. So moments like this are essential to teach them the growth mindset. I will say this, don't make a god from your process. This is not the goal. The goal is the goal. And we have the OKR framework to prove that to help us, we have the objective, we have the result, how we reach there, it's adaptable, and we can learn from it, we can inspect it, we can do the check in reflect upon it, we have all the tools to reach to our goal. Now regarding a leader, what I can do as a leader to motivate my team to try again, because usually people when they fail, they get a bit afraid, and they will not try to make anything or try to optimize the process because there is a small step of fear there. I like the model of Daniel Pink regarding intrinsic motivation. And the model has three pillars. It's the purpose, it’s the autonomy and the mastery. And when a person failures and doesn't want to try again, I will ask myself, what pillar is missing? Is it autonomy? Do I control too much, and that person doesn't like that? He doesn't own the how, is their mastery missing? Are there some skills missing and I need to help that person to reach their mastery? Or is the purpose missing? There is no meaning there is no valuable contribution and they just act like sheep. So for me, it's important to look at this the three pillars and ask myself, what of them is missing from that life of the employee and try to amend that and after that to see if the solution is if the problem is solved?

Johannes:

I think you're making a strong point here for leadership, training and enablement. Right. I think everything you're saying just emphasizes how important Leaders and coaches are to facilitate that kind of change. And on the other hand, also, I think would you say shows how important the retrospective and the kind of agile mindset is also with regards to the process itself? Yeah, from my experience, the retrospectives can be the moment in an organization where teams actually, where you have the strongest moment of adoption, because teams realize this is not a rigid, foreign thing, this is not something that we need to do, because it's somewhere in the books, but this is our steering and our collaboration model. We have principles, we have maybe some best practices that this framework gives us. But ultimately, cycle by cycle, we can make this more and more our process. And if I'm hurt as a frontline employee, and an operative team, if I do a retrospective in my team, and my coach, my team lead makes sure this actually this information does feedback, this learning flows back into the process and the iteration of the process- I think there's, that's probably the most powerful moment you can have in terms of organizational change, if you want to make it work in a very sustainable manner. So I very much agree with you what you said there.

Andreea:

Yes. Oh, by the way, while you're talking, I realized I never mentioned agile, even though I'm the agile manager in my company. Because for me, the principles of agile are, should be embedded in the mindset. I mean, they really help your mindset become better. And by the way, regarding reflection, and retrospective, I really believe that we have to make them part of our lives, not an event. A retrospective can be an event if it happens twice a month, for example. But if we help our employees to really create this habit of being reflective, self awareness, whenever they do something, ask, get a step back, ask yourself, what I need to do better, what went well? So these questions that can be embedded in the life. In our everyday life, I think they are key to success. Because self reflection is the previous step before self management. So if we know how to reflect them, we will know how to manage ourselves and our work.

Johannes:

Very much like you brought up the topic of agile, I think it's actually good. We didn't talk about it too much. Because that's exactly the point, right? I think Agile is just another example of it's a label, it's a buzzword, that sort of like is being pushed into organizations. And in many cases, it doesn't work because people think it's like a new thing. It's something they have to do. Instead of talking about, like the principles behind right, nobody like a lot of people would argue with are agile, a lot of people think that doesn't work here, or it failed in the past. But I think very few people would argue with the relevance of radical customer centricity, knowing who your customer is, and what value you create for them. Or in today's world, like fast learning loops built, learn, adapt for your customer, cross functional collaboration, working with others, where everyone you need to actually create a good customer experience and outcome for the customer. Most people wouldn't argue with those. And those are just like principles of being agile. So I think that's another good example. You can take OKRs, you can take other frameworks, you can take agile, it's about cutting through the clutter of that, the buzzword the big trend, and actually getting down on a first level principle and what it means to your organization and what role it should play in the future of the organization. Andrea, we are already coming to an end. As always, we'd like to ask our guest three questions. And before we go into these three final questions, I'd like to remind our audience again, to take a look at the show notes. Andrea mentioned a couple of thinkers and people like Daniel Pink with his concept of flow with this idea of purpose, growth and autonomy. So a couple of the things that we talked about, also our previous conversation on the Superkinetic podcast, we will put into the show notes. If you want to dive a little bit deeper, if you want to learn more, if you want to exchange with people like Andrea, if you want to suggest topics for one of our next episodes, or even guests, you can join us, join the Work Path community at community.workpath.com. But you can also just follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter to interact with us or to see if one of our upcoming webinars events or content might be interesting for you. If you've liked what we talked about today, I'm very sure you'll find more of that there. Let's get to the final questions Andrea and let's jump right into it. If you could invite any leader, thinker - can be dead or alive - for a dinner. Who would this be and why? 

Andreea:

Well, I gave it a bit of a thought. I admire a lot of people and for this particular dinner, I would like to invite Dale Carnegie. He wrote How to Make Friends and Influence People and I was reading that book with a group and every week we were reading a chapter, then applying the principle at the end, then come back and reflect what worked, what didn't work. And it struck for me the type of leadership he is advising in the book. It's a subtle leadership. It's not about dominance, not about controlling people, but really about serving people. And that, for me, was really connected to how I try to serve my people, the colleagues in my team and the company. And I would like to have a chat with him. Yeah

Johannes:

Nice. Yeah, we put that book and the link to his bio into the show notes as well.  Is there any particular advice that a colleague or a mentor or supervisor used to give you in the past, that you still think about sometimes can be, I don't know, something philosophical, can be some kind of mantra, something that stills in your head, and maybe sometimes helps you reflect or guides the way you do things?

Andreea:

Yes, maybe it's not that philosophical, but I still remember my manager telling me, Andrea, don't get too attached to your role. The role is not important. You can do things and have impact in the company from any role. And I was back then an agile master. Now I'm a manager and still think about that. My role can be important for some, but really, it doesn't enable me to do change. It enables my identity, the things I believe in my purpose, my vision, my mission. So I still think about that, especially that we have a joke in the company, we say that we will succeed with our role when our domain and our agile masters will no longer be needed in the company. So when I'm not needed in the company, to guide the agility, this means that was my successful. I still keep this in mind whenever I do things, or I feel a bit overwhelmed by the role or by the things that are expected from me.

Johannes:

Good advice. Yeah. Thank you. And that's the last question already. You mentioned a couple of books. You mentioned a book by Dale Carnegie, but I'm sure you have another one for us. The third question is always about a book recommendation that you'd like to share with our listeners. One, like a book that you might have read recently or an all time classic. What's your recommendation?

Andreea:

I'm a bookworm, but here it was easy to choose a book. You saw through my answers, that purpose is extremely important for me. I do things with purpose. So I recommend Victor Frankel's book Man's Search for Meaning. He is a psychologist that developed logotherapy. It's, a school of psychology that helps people to uncover their meaning and their purpose in life. And I believe he has the right to do that, because he was also one of the people that went to holocaust. So I recommend that book, especially for the meaning. Finding the meaning in life, even through hardship, even through this pandemic, that still suppresses us. So it's my recommendation to have a start for everything that comes after for the vision for the company for OKR. The purpose I believe is essential.

Johannes:

Yeah, I agree. Very profound book, I think I read last year. A little bit dark, but in the end with the key messages also very positive and hopeful and about what makes human life purposeful. Yeah. So plus one on that recommendation, if I can do that. Thank you very much. 

Okay. Thank you, Andrea. Thanks for being on this episode. Hope to speak soon again. Really enjoyed the talk. And I wish you all the best.

Andreea:

Thank You Johannes. Again, once again, thank you for inviting me, and hopefully our listeners found value in this talk we have.

Johannes:

I'm sure. Thank you very much. Take care.

Show notes

People referred to:
- Carol Dweck
- Daniel Pink
- Dale Carnegie

Book recommendations:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People - by Dale Carnegie
- Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl

Others:
- OKR-Forum special with Andreea

Would you like to co-create this podcast by contributing your own questions? Head to community.workpath.com to do so. Follow us on Spotify and Apple Music and leave us a 5-star recommendation if you like what you hear. We appreciate your praise. This Podcast is a product by Workpath