Ash Buchanan interview transcript: Benefit Mindset
FONA Interviewer: Lara Johnson
- Tell me a bit about yourself, describe how you got where you are today?
I’ve got a background as an engineer focusing on sustainability, working with architects and engineers. My focus was on developing sustainability plans. For most of that career I thought the solution to our sustainability issues was a technical one, for example putting solar panels on roofs but as time went by I started to realise that I could provide businesses with the best solutions and plans but unless the companies and people had the right culture the projects wouldn’t be that successful.
So, I became really interested in the cultural aspect and people aspect of sustainability. That’s what lead me to a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology and to that’s led me along the way to develop the Benefit Mindset.
- What lead you to the Benefit Mindset?
Originally, I had wanted to create a single slide to explain to my clients the sort of culture they needed for their buildings to thrive. From my research, I realised it didn’t exist in the psychological literature. So, I took something that was pretty close and added to it.
- How would you describe Benefit Mindset?
There are three mindsets in the framework which people adopt. What a mindset is are the beliefs and assumptions that people hold.
In the first is the Fixed mindset: they are the everyday expert. They know how everything works, they are not willing to to try new things and learn.
The second is called a growth mindset: this is currently a popular idea in education and business. We need to be willing to fail and try new things in order to develop themselves. In schools all around the world right now you’ll find growth mindset posters on all the walls that the students have made.
I suggested that neither were sufficient to create a thriving building. So, I added a third, the Benefit Mindset. This person is willing to learn, to contribute and become an everyday leader who looks beyond personal achievement, promotes wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level. It’s also becoming a core strategy for businesses like Microsoft and lots of big global businesses. My work studies those mindsets and I suggested that neither were sufficient to create a thriving building. So, I added a third called the Benefit Mindset. Really what that is, is a person is willing to learn, to contribute and become an everyday leader who looks beyond personal achievement, promotes wellbeing on both an individual and a collective level.
- What is an everyday leader?
An everyday leader is someone who promotes their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the ecosystem that they are a part of. They do things that are meaningful to them, that give them a sense of purpose in life but also bring out the best in the building they are in, the community they are in. They see that everything thrives together rather than trying to be just individually successful.
- Why do you think the Benefit Mindset is important in the NFP sector?
I think it is important for everyone to adopt it.
The issue I’m seeing in the world is lots of people starting to make a difference in their own way at the moment but want we really need is for people to come together in concert with one another. That’s what the benefit mindset is about, people coming together and promoting wellbeing together, rather than individualised ideas of what wellbeing and success are.
- How do you see this concept relating to the work FONA is conducting?
The Education Centre is a wonderful model for showing people what is possible.
- How can FONA get the best out of the Benefit Mindset?
FONA can getting the best out of the Benefit Mindset by focusing on its culture, making time to talk about their values and instilling them in their relationships. A core part of benefit is about becoming the change you seek.
FONA have shown the community they understand what they care about and it’s not about being an outsider projecting on to the Education Centre who they should be.
- Can you see the benefit mindset being used in education?
We’ve just ran a workshop with 500 students and we’ll be working with ten more schools in the next months.
Really we want to help the students discover that learning is important but it’s not the last they can do. There are other options. They can take what they’ve learnt and use it to lead. You can learn to be kind, you can choose to be kind and that’s a different skill.
We are looking at setting up a whole bunch of leadership labs so students can learn how to be leaders and ultimately be the change they want to see.