A Scout Mindset

(1 minute read plus 11 minute video plus reflection)

In this TedxTalk by Julia Galef – Why you think you’re right – even if you’re wrong – she shares her research regarding mindsets.  She uses the roles of soldier and scout as metaphors for how we process information and ideas.  She considers the differences between the roles and mindsets of a soldier and of a scout.  Whereas the role of the soldier is to defend or attack, the role of the scout is to understand.  Galef explores:

  • Being curious to understand what really is there as opposed to seeing things through your own biases
  • How motivated reasoning leads to the decisions we make; and she asks:
  • “What do you yearn for?”  Do you want to defend your position or to see the world with clarity?

This work adds to the research of:

  • Carol Dweck on growth mindset
  • That of Kim Cameron and colleagues regarding positive leadership, advocacy (being the expert) and inquiry (being curious about different perspectives and wondering what else may be learnt), and
  • The work of Edgar Schein on humble inquiry and the FORJI model (filters & biases, observation, reaction, judgement, intervention)


As you watch and listen, reflect on the following:

  • Galef does mention that both soldier and scout mindsets are needed in an army, but are both needed in an organisation?
  • How do the benefits of a scout mindset outweigh those of a soldier mindset in an organisation?
  • Which mindset is preferred in your organisation? Why?
  • What is your default mindset? What is the impact of this?
  • When do you need to courageously use your scout mindset in your workplace?



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Image: Viktor Koen


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