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Monday, September 7, 2009

Paradigm and Paradigm Shift

It will be a good idea to refer to "Shyam Bhatawdekar's Effectiveness Model- HSoftware" at (Effectiveness Management: HSoftware) and/or (Life Management: Effectiveness Management: HSoftware)

You may also like to read: (Self-concept)

Scope- Frame of Reference

  • Science Historian Thomas Kuhn gave this term "paradigm".
  • He referred the paradigms as the set of practices that define a scientific discipline during a particular period of time- basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science at a particular point in time.
  • Later on this term became quite popular and now is being used in many disciplines.
  • In this write-up here, however, we are going to use this term "paradigm" in management, business, personal, social and family spheres.

Explanation and Definition of Paradigm

  • The word paradigm comes from the Greek. word paradeigma.
  • The dictionary meaning of paradigm is pattern or model.
  • Basic assumptions made about reality are paradigms. They are consciously or subconsciously held by an individual or group of people or an organization. And to them, these assumptions literally become the reality.
  • The assumptions which now start looking like reality get fixed or set in the mind of the person who holds them. That is why paradigm is also known as "mindset".
  • Once, you have a paradigm or a mindset that you start believing as reality or truth, you are likely to become rigid on it and ordinarily will not like to change or shift from that paradigm. You stop realizing that the paradigm you are holding is really your assumption about what the reality might be. The fact is- you are not necessarily aware of the reality. All you know is that the reality might be exactly opposite of your paradigm and you would not even know that. This phenomenon could be dangerous.
  • So, in a general or common sense, paradigm means a frame of reference through which one sees or views the world. Therefore, the same world may look entirely differently to different people. When asked to give opinion on the female drivers (driving cars), one hears some saying- they make terrible drivers, others saying- they are pretty cautious and yet others saying- they are beautiful. The reality may be something else.

Paradigms Are Very Powerful

  • Paradigms can make or mar your personal, professional, family and social life. If they are correct, you come out as a winner, effective and successful. But if they are wrong, they can take you in an entirely opposite direction to turn you into a loser, ineffective and failure.
  • Paradigm do two things. One: they set the boundaries and give you direction in which to proceed and two: then, you use those boundaries for achieving your success.
  • So, if the answers or solutions to success exist outside the boundaries set by you and on top of that, you start moving in the wrong direction, you are just not going to move towards your destination (the success) and reach your destination. Rather, you will move away from it. Your positive thinking, intentions, attitudes, enthusiasm, efficiency etc would not help you much if your paradigms are wrong or mixed up.
  • Paradigms are thus extremely positively or extremely negatively powerful.
  • Carrying right paradigms in the head is the answer, removing wrong paradigms is the answer, shifting away from wrong paradigms to the right paradigms is the answer.

Very Well Known Opposing Paradigms of Yester Years (and How the More Correct Paradigms Changed the World)

  • For Ptolemy, the Egyptian astronomer and also for the entire world, once upon a time, the assumption that the earth was the center of the universe was an absolute truth, it was their paradigm. But Copernicus and then, Galileo through the scientific experiments proved that this paradigm was wrong and gave us a new paradigm that earth revolves round the sun.
  • Bloodletting was a notorious practice of curing patients from the diseases based on the flawed paradigm that the bad stuff was always in the blood and by removing the bad blood, the sick people would get cured. Now we know that it was an entirely dangerous paradigm and medical science has advanced with more correct paradigms now.
  • Centuries old paradigm of monarchy was replaced by democracy (government of the people, by the people and for the people) in a large majority of the nations.
  • Switzerland is the well known example of how it lost out the world watch market in early 1980s. By then, it had 80% to 85% share of watch business. However, it plummeted down to less than 10% because of the technological paradigm shift from mechanical watches to electronic quartz watches. You may perhaps be knowing that quartz technology was designed and developed in Swiss laboratories. Yet, the investors and industrialists and CEOs of the Swiss watch companies showed the designers of quartz technology the door when they presented them the new paradigm of quartz technology. Later on , it was displayed in the world watch congress in USA. Texas Instruments of USA and Seiko of Japan took one look at it and rest is history. Why do you think the wise bosses of watch making companies of Switzerland rejected such a wonderful technology? Paradigm, paradigm- their paradigm of mechanical watches.
  • Significant medical improvements were made possible with the understanding of the germ theory. Until then the old paradigms of medical treatment prevailed.
  • Quality was thought to be very expensive proposition by the manufacturing organizations until Philip Crosby showed that quality does not cost more, in fact it comes free and it saves.
  • The Newtonian model of Physics, though still the basis of modern engineering, was partial and incomplete. Einstein paradigm, the theory of relativity, revolutionized the scientific world. His theory explained much more.
  • Japanese brought about entirely new and diametrically opposite paradigms as against the paradigms on which conventional management systems were based and the whole world felt convinced and learnt to adopt Japanese management systems to its advantage.

Paradigm Paralysis

  • Large numbers o people are not introspective about their own paradigms of thousands of aspects or things of their daily personal, professional, family and social life.
  • So, once they start believing in a particular paradigm, they cling on to it life long. It becomes their permanent mindset. they become too rigid and possessive about it.
  • As the times change, new paradigms emerge or old paradigms are proved to be wrong or obsolete. Yet, the people with rigid mindsets get stuck with the older paradigms. Galileo was tried in Rome in 1633 to propagate the Copernican theory of sun being the center of the solar system and earth revolving around it as against the old and flawed theory of earth being the center. And it took ages to formally exonerate him in 1979.
  • This phenomenon of becoming too rigid about a paradigm despite it having been proved wrong and sticking to it is called "paradigm paralysis". You get paralysed by that flawed paradigm since now your feelings, thoughts and actions are all being guided by the wrong paradigm. You just cannot be effective and successful even if you are a hard working, sincere and highly efficient person. That will only accelerate your doom.
  • Therefore, if you do not want to be paralysed by a wrong paradigm, shift from it to a new and more correct paradigm at the earliest possible opportunity. Look out for a more correct paradigm constantly. Be flexible.

Everyone Goes Back to Zero When Paradigms Change or Shift

  • Refer the example of Swiss watches given earlier on this page. How their market domination of around 80% market share plummeted to below 10% due to a paradigm shift of electronic or quartz technology watches from the mechanical watches. The heroes became zeros all of a sudden.
  • So, when the paradigm shifts, everyone gets back to zero and from there he has to once again pick up with the new paradigm.
  • You past experience and success counts nothing when the paradigms change. That does not guarantee any success in the future.
  • So, better change your paradigm and start your journey all over again. Be flexible. Look around for more correct paradigms all the time.

Paradigm Pioneer

  • The one who put forth a new paradigm, in the process, may be, negating the older paradigms on that subject is called a "paradigm pioneer".
  • It requires lots of courage and conviction to put forth and follow a new paradigm. With older paradigm, you have already seen its impact and results but since the new paradigm has yet to be tested in practice, you have to have great trust in it.
  • For progress, it is important to have such paradigm pioneers. Would you like to be one of them? For this, you have to be observant, introspective, action oriented and courageous to break the conventions.

For More Guidance, Assistance, Training and Consultation


Training on "Paradigm" and "Paradigm Shift" is imparted by Prodcons Group's Mr Shyam Bhatawdekar and/or Dr (Mrs) Kalpana Bhatawdekar, the renowned management educationists, consultants and trainers- par excellence with distinction of having trained over 150,000 people from around 250 organizations.

Also refer: (Prodcons Group), (Training Programs by Prodcons Group), (Productivity Consultants)

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