More Than a Buzzword: Biotech and the Rise of Growth Mindsets


Written by Kieran Canisius

Kieran brings together vendors, investors, growth, clinical and subject matter experts at the forefront of their life science specialties to energetically support clients in overcoming their challenges and find new strategies for success.

October 20, 2021

As we grow and evolve (as individuals, teams, or companies), we change, and so does the environment around us.

This is especially true for the biotech industry, which is currently experiencing record growth looking at a 60+% increase in deal size and venture-capital fundraising from 2020 to 2021.

Not only do Biotechs feel the demand to constantly innovate in order to identify and alleviate the unmet needs of patients, but also to work with pharmaceutical companies that still rely on them as a source of innovation and potential mergers & acquisitions.

But, how do you keep the ability to evolve and innovate while facilitating team stability and employee engagement, and limiting resilience to change?

Adopting a growth mindset within your organization unlocks new potentials, like agility and adaptability, in the face of ever-changing scientific circumstances and patient needs.

What’s a Growth Mindset & How Will Teams Benefit?

You may have heard this term thrown around, but what exactly is a growth mindset?

It’s an approach to our brains, and hence learning, coming from the premise that skills are not fixed, but can be developed and improved over time.

In contrast, a fixed mindset would mean talents and abilities are a static given, and no amount of effort can change the innate stock of an individual’s or team’s skills. This shift in perspective has a massive impact on how individuals and teams can be motivated to learn, develop, innovate, and pivot in the face of challenges.

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck’s groundbreaking research on motivation and mindsets – published in her book Mindset (2006, 2017), with over a million copies sold – has paved the way for an industry-wide change in attitude. Success, Dweck’s work argues, is not explained by innate abilities or talent, but whether we approach them with a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

When it comes to identified weaknesses, a growth mindset departs from the notion that others are better at this or that skill and reinforces the idea you and those around you can always improve.

In other words, a growth mindset means focusing on ‘one-upping’ your past self rather than out-competing or out-performing others (some refer to this as ‘know it all’ versus ‘learn it all’ approaches).


Growth Mindset Within Biotech

Discover how instilling a growth mindset and enhancing cross-functional team collaboration through a tailored learning & development program helped this biotech create an efficient speed-to-market pathway.

The Impact of a Growth Mindset

Dweck’s research emphasizes that when management promotes a growth mindset, whole teams benefit. Those focused on growth are more likely to work hard and encourage learning despite setbacks and challenges. In fact, they are likely to view challenges as opportunities rather than threats. By boosting resilience, staff can embrace challenges more confidently.

Furthermore, staff are:

  • 34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company;
  • 49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation; and
  • 65% likelier to say that the company supports risk-taking.

Sounds great, right? Cultivating a growth mindset, while invaluable, won’t happen by itself and certainly not overnight. It requires cognitive and behavioral change, demanding dedication and hard work.
Start your organization’s growth mindset journey with our 5 recommended steps.

5 Steps for Promoting a Growth Mindset Within Your Biotech

1. Embrace the Power of “Yet”

YET – this three-letter word is the maxim of a growth mindset. It is future-oriented and hints at the learning curve innate in skill development. In other words, you might not YET have certain skills or abilities, but these talents can be developed through effort and persistence. For more, see Carol Dweck’s TED talk and the great example she brings up here.

2. Reevaluate Your Goalsetting

Dweck’s research illustrates that how teams set goals impacts their mindset. Set learning goals (growth mindset) instead of performance goals, solely focused on KPIs and metrics, (fixed mindset) to keep the motivation levels high, encourage employees to take on new challenges, and emphasize long-term improvement within your organization.

3. Turn Challenges Into Opportunities

Encourage your staff to experiment, even if this means risking failure. Take every failure as an opportunity for learning and development by reflecting upon actions taken and areas for improvement. Those who make themselves vulnerable enough to fail will foster greater self-awareness.

4. Encourage Open Communication

Free and clear communication, especially between management and employees, encourages a growth mindset. When leaders listen to their employees, they’re more likely to catch ‘fixed-mindset language’ (i.e., “I can’t” or “This is impossible”).

Promoting an environment where people can share lessons learned, along with their failures, will switch your team to an improvement mindset (e.g., “Let’s try this” or “We haven’t succeeded yet”).

5. Focus on Giving and Receiving Feedback

Feedback is a central part of the work experience. However, how it is delivered and received makes a huge difference.

Train yourself and your employees to approach feedback constructively. Move away from praise-based feedback (the idea that someone is naturally talented) towards improvement feedback (focused on continual development). Go one step further than assessing what went well (or didn’t) by digging deeper into how things could be improved.

Ready to Take Your Growth Mindset to the Next Level?

Looking for more tips on how to approach your organizational learning and development plans? Read our recent blog on the 5 Ways Learning & Development Will Enhance your Organizational Culture.

Unleash the full potential of your team and organization with Organizational Development & Corporate Training Programs.

Ready to prepare for the future?

Start to train your employees, teams, and executives while instilling a growth mindset within your life science organization.


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