A 160-Year-Old Telecoms Giant Proves Adaptation Knows No Limits


Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Someone with a fixed mindset, most likely.

As we detail in our recent white paper, “Growth Mindset: Case Study Collection,” the story of 160-year-old Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor proves that young start-ups don’t own the ability to adapt. Even the older giants can learn to change.

What growth mindset means

The NeuroLeadership Institute defines growth mindset as the dual belief that employees can improve their skills through persistent effort, and that continual improvement is the purpose of the work they do. We call this “organizational growth mindset,” or having a “growth mindset culture.”

The oppose of a growth mindset is fixed mindset, or the belief that skills are innate and can’t be improved. Everyone, at some point, resorts to fixed-mindset thinking, such as when we tell ourselves we’re simply “bad” at something.

“For Telenor’s employees,” the new report reads, “growth mindset means perseverance in times of change, being curious and asking lots of questions, and achieving more tomorrow than they did today.”

With 172 million customers across Scandinavia and Asia, Telenor came to see pretty quickly the importance of focusing on growth.

How growth mindset makes an impact

Telenor embeds growth mindset into a number of its processes. On the company’s learning platform, employees can earn growth mindset learning badges for completing various levels of online self-study. Roughly 8,500 employees worldwide have taken advantage of the six short learning modules. The average learner spends 1.2 hours on the platform.

In addition, Telenor leadership has embedded growth mindset into the company’s ongoing innovation efforts, through the term “working red.” It refers to notions of failing fast and learning from mistakes to prototype more intentionally in the future.

Internal reports show dialogues between managers and employees are becoming more bi-directional, rather than directive. The conversations involve more language related to progress over time, rather than pure achievement.

“Telenor aims to be a digital frontrunner,” says Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of the Telenor Group, “taking a clear lead in developing and adapting new technology.”

Author: Chris Weller