The Paradigm Shift



For people to be willing to change, they must feel that they can try to change, without fear of embarrassment or reprisal. The challenge to the organization (and management), in the long run, is to create an environment of change and let people know that it's okay to try, fail, and try again. The Wright brothers didn't fly the first time.

Very simply, workers must feel empowered to do whatever it takes, within legal and ethical limits, to make necessary changes. People have a desire to succeed, and the thing that often frustrates them the most is roadblocks (existing paradigms) over which they have no control.

The change environment is most heavily influenced by the actions of managers, who must see themselves in a new light and perhaps take on completely new roles. Of critical importance is the commit­ment of top management to creating a change environment. Here are some action items for creating a Change Environment. [2]

• Top management understanding and commitment

• Orientation across entire organization

• Open communication

• Ensuring people understand and support change

• Asking people for help, not telling them how to act

• Educating management

• Recognizing that change involves education, training, & involvement

Becoming Able to Create Change

In addition to being willing to change, people must work on their ability to create change. Not everyone has the ability to initiate change. Often this involves creative ways to break the bonds of existing paradigms.

The argument has raged for a long time as to whether creative individuals are born or made. No matter what one's genetic makeup, the following techniques enhance creativity:[4]

Brainstorming: A group technique in which any and all ideas are recorded, in a nonjudgmental setting, for later critique.

Free Association : Analogies and symbols are used to foster unconventional thinking.

Attribute Listing: Ideal characteristics are collected and screened for useful insights.

Creative Leap: Thinking up idealistic solution and situation and working back to feasibility.

What If? and Why?: Ask questions that challenge the status quo; don't be afraid to keep asking.

Role Reversal: Being forced to argue for the opposite view.

A Summary Case

A mini-case describing how Motorola broke through the bonds of paradigm paralysis will be presented. Space limitations do not permit its inclusion here.

Accepting the Challenge of Change

The watchword of the 1990s is change, and as shown, change doesn't just happen. Successful change requires effort, challenge, and perhaps failure. The successful change master, doesn't accept the same tired old paradigms, but breaks beyond them to create new paradigms that meet the future. Remember, What is impos­sible today may become the norm tomorrow!—so be prepared.


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