The Paradigm Shift



The leading authority on paradigms today is Joel A. Barker, a futurist and corporate consultant who has lectured and written extensively on the subject. To grasp the paradigm examples to be presented later, it is important first to understand some of the

basic concepts developed by Barker, who describes them better than anyone. Thus, the ideas and definitions in this section come directly, and basically unchanged, from his work.[l]

A paradigm is a set of rules and regulations (written or unwritten) that (1) establishes or defines boundaries and (2) tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful.

The paradigm effect causes us to view the world according to our own paradigms, and lets us see things as we want to see them, not necessarily as they really are. It can literally "blind" us and prevent us from seeing new opportunities, markets, strategies, and creative solutions.

A paradigm shift is a change to a new game, a new set of rules. When a paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero. Past success­es guarantee nothing in the future, and may even be a hindrance.

Paradigm shifters are those people who change the rules; para­digm pioneers are the early followers of shifters who help drive the new rules to reality.

The fundamental question to ask in driving the paradigm shift is the following: What today is impossible to do in your business, but if it could be done, would fundamentally change what you do?

Finally, there are some pertinent observations about paradigms:

• Paradigms are common and affect all aspects of life.

• Paradigms are useful in helping solve problems (as long you don't become a slave to old ones).

• Your paradigm can become the (one and only) paradigm, resulting in contrary ideas being rejected out of hand. This leads to paradigm paralysis—the terminal disease of certainty.

• You can choose to see the world anew and change the rules and regulations.


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