How Cigna Uses Growth Mindset to Boost Agility


As we’ve written before, growth mindset doesn’t mean companies should pursue boundless expansion. In fact, growth mindset refers to a reasonable set of expectations for how someone can stretch over time. But organizations also still need to adapt on an ongoing basis. And one of the organizations leading this charge is Cigna.

A U.S.-based health services company with more than 74,000 employees worldwide, and 160 million customer relationships, Cigna offers services that face disruption on a near-constant basis. New technologies, processes, and customer needs have all created a need for Cigna employees to face challenges both unknown and unknowable.

NLI’s latest white paper, “Growth Mindset: Case Study Collection,” offers a close look at the transformation Cigna underwent across 2016 and 2017 to cultivate this agility through growth mindset.

Applying growth mindset

Following an NLI-led discussion with Cigna’s senior leadership, internal stakeholders began introducing the concept of growth mindset organization-wide. Managers mentioned it in town halls, and employees began seeing posters reminding them to focus on progress over time. Internal messaging praised the value of challenging the status quo and not being afraid to try.

However, agility comprised only one half of Cigna’s larger growth-mindset journey. The other half focused on reinventing performance management. Specifically, Cigna leaders identified a need to move away from rigid, one-time discussions and toward frequent dialogues.

Growth mindset helps teams make that shift because it gets people to consider new information over time. It also equips people to ask for feedback, something NLI’s research has found both unfortunately rare in organizations and yet vital to longterm success. When people use growth mindset to ask for feedback, they maximize their chances of leaning into smarter behaviors and building more effective habits.

Cigna has taken these two concepts and run with them. Karla Shores, Cigna’s Performance Management Director, says the effect has been wholly positive when it comes to collaboration.

“Collaboration is how we deliver on our everyday priorities,” she told NLI. “People feel more comfortable working with one another to improve the organization overall.”

Author: Chris Weller