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The Change Designs Blog is a collection of insights, personal stories and real life experiences from people working in organizations. In this blog you will find real life stories depicting magical experiences and struggles, where the truth is richer, stranger and more practical than any theory or model. If you've ever wanted to read the diary of a leader, strategist, change agent, consultant, facilitator or a coach, or you are grappling with problems at work, then you will enjoy reading this practical blog.

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Business paradigms - the key to change, strategy and innovation

Ruth Tearle - Monday, December 28, 2020

Paradigms are the assumptions, models or beliefs we hold, that affect how we understand ourselves and what is happening in the world around us. Often we need to change the way we think to open our minds to new possibilities, opportunities or solutions.

Read this article on business paradigms on our new website.

  • Have you ever had to deal with people who complain about a frustrating problem, but when you suggest an easy solution, they immediately come up with all sorts of reasons as to why your solution just won’t work for them?
  • Have you ever struggled to convince people that there is a new, better way to do things? you ever tried to get people to accept a ‘new normal.’ One that requires them to change their behaviour?
  • Have you ever struggled to get a group to see, let alone accept, a new opportunity or innovative idea?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you will have experienced the power of paradigms.

I first came across the idea of paradigms over 30 years ago, when I watched a video by Joel Barker called “The Business of Paradigms.” He made a few points that have been with me all my working life:

  • We see the world through the framework of our paradigms.
  • We are often unaware of the paradigms that influence the way we make decisions.
  • When someone challenges our paradigm, we often reject their idea without even thinking. We stifle new ideas by saying: “This is the way we do things around here.” Or “this is the way things are done in our industry.”
  • Sometimes our existing paradigms are so strong that they prevent us from seeing new opportunities that are obvious to others who hold a different paradigm
  • Whenever you want a radical innovation that will change the way business is done in your industry, you will need to change your paradigms.
The secret to all innovation, improvement or change, is the ability to see things in a new way.

As a leadership consultant practicing in many different cultures and industries, I found that whenever I needed to help a team or a company to develop, improve, innovate or change, I was more often than not, blocked by outdated paradigms. But, whenever I began a session with an intervention around paradigms, the group would became more creative and more open to change.

I now use a paradigm intervention whenever I need to help a group to:

  • Be creative. To come up with new ideas. To think ‘outside of the box’.
  • To develop new markets, new products or new services.
  • Learn something new on a training course, that requires them to unlearn an old way of doing things.
  • Get buy-in to a new way of doing things. To change habits or the status quo.
  • Improve on the way they do things.
  • Discover new opportunities.
  • Change the way they behave to support a new company culture or strategy.
  • Keep up to date with changes in their external environment in order to build a company that is flexible to change.

This means I use a paradigm intervention as part of any workshop on:paradigms

  • Organizational Development.
  • Strategic planning.
  • Cultural change
  • Innovation.
  • Continuous improvement.
  • Change management.
  • Sales and marketing.

The types of interventions I use the most to change paradigms are those that help a team to:

  • Recognise their existing paradigms and develop new paradigms.
  • Change from a product to a customer paradigm
  • Reduce costs using a different paradigm.
  • Change from a silo mentality to a customer paradigm.
  • View a problem from a different perspective.
  • Help a team to adapt to a new normal.
  • Identify trends that may shape the future.Identify new opportunities from trends.
  • Identify new opportunities from trends.
  • Develop a scenario of the future environment within which your organization is likely to operate.
  • Identify new paradigms for being successful within a future world.

When you help your team to experience the true power of changing paradigms, they become more open to change. More creative and motivated to contribute to an exciting future. A future they discovered for themselves through looking at their world, their problem, their organization or themselves in a fresh way.


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