Growth guru Neil Dempster challenges PEO member mindsets.

Dempster’s breakfast inspiration: ‘change is growth; growth is change’

In a morning session high up in the EY Tower, Neil Dempster, the foremost advisor on personnel’s role in organizational growth, enthralled a large gathering of PEO members with his humour, insights and down-to-earth advice for establishing and maintaining a growth company.

Dempster started with a Futurist Dan Burrus’ provocative statement: “In the past, business success was all about size; the large ate the small. Today, it’s all about speed; the fast eat the slow.”  He then challenged each PEO member to become “growth agile” by removing the cultural inhibitors to growth.

He added that our mission is to be “first among equals,” because we “compete on a level playing field with access to technology and process. People become our only true differentiation. Employee mindset will trump skillset any day of the week.”

Dempster, a Timmins, Ont. native, now resides in sunny Scottsdale. He used the Japanese Zen term Shoshin to describe the necessary mindset for growth. “It means having an open or ready mind…ready to step outside of the comfort zones most people reside in.”

What is that mindset? Dempster called it ‘the rut’ and displayed a hilarious photo of driving in Timmins, where ruts in the road are common place following cold winters and thawing, and to prevent the discomfort of driving over corrugated roads, one has to choose a ‘rut’ to drive in. “People like the rut, it’s comfortable and predictable.”Dempster called joining a group like PEO “courageous” it meant that the attendees had not only committed to sustaining growth but also were capable of undergoing peer scrutiny to aid in meeting their goals.

He made so many interesting points that we would like to reproduce his entire talk—it was that stimulating. In case you couldn’t be with us, here are 10 key Neil Dempster takeaways:

  1. Change is inevitable but adaptability is optional because every employee owns that accountability.
  2. All change is growth and all growth is change. Create positive tension around it.
  3. People don’t join organizations; they join cultures, with all their normative patterns.
  4. It’s cultures that inhibit growth, so they must be worked on to achieve growth.
  5. Culture is the software that must be programmed and refined almost daily.
  6. Remove ‘failure stigmas’ (we must fail to succeed) and watch innovation soar.
  7. Seeing the inevitable mission statement in a corporate lobby, he wonders – is there really buy-in? Usually there isn’t.
  8. It’s behaviours that speak the truth and employees pick up cues from managers, who pick them up from higher up executives.
  9. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is the challenge that drives innovation.
  10. Measuring people against the ‘average’ will only get you average performance – the actual performance standard is the lowest level you are willing to accept.

Be sure and see Neil speak if you get the chance, he is thought provoking, stimulating and an inspiration to those of us focused on Growth.

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