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
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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