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THE BUSINESS OF PARADIGMS

A video by Joel Barker (1989).
ChartHouse International Learning Corp

Reviewed by Grady McAllister.

Futurist Joel Barker says people shoot down good ideas because they assume that the future is merely an extension of the past.  Many things we accept today once met substantial resistance from thoughtful people. 

People resist change when they operate within old paradigms. These paradigms establish boundaries and provide the rules for success. 

People tend to filter out information that doesn't fit the paradigm. Barker calls this the "Paradigm Effect."  This can block creative solutions to problems and the ability to see the future. 

To illustrate,  Barker tells stories of triumph and disaster resulting from paradigms. Here's one:

Question: What nation dominated the world of watch-making in 1968? 

Answer: Switzerland, a country renowned for over a hundred years for watch-making excellence. In 1968, it held 65 per cent of the market.

Question: What nation dominates watch-making today?

Answer: Japan, a nation which, in 1968, held virtually no  market share.

Reason: The introduction of the quartz watch.

Question: Who invented the quartz watch?

Answer: The Swiss. The Swiss were so certain that it was only a novelty, they showed it promiscuously at a trade show. 

The Japanese came; they saw the idea; they conquered the market. The Swiss failed to see the potential because they had a financial and emotional investment in the old paradigm.

Barker says: "When a paradigm shifts, everybody goes back to zero. It doesn't matter how strong your reputation, or how big your market share,  or how good you are at the old paradigm."

Barker makes these key observations about paradigms:

(1)  Paradigms are common. They apply to all areas of our lives.

(2) Paradigms are useful. They show us what is important.

(3) A warning: Sometimes paradigms become THE paradigm ---- the only way to do something. Thereafter, any new idea is rejected out of hand. Barker calls this "paradigm paralysis." It's a terminal disease that has destroyed many a mammoth.

(4)  The people who create new paradigms are usually outsiders. They are not part of the established paradigm community. They need not be young, but they are people who are not invested in the old paradigm.

(5) The paradigm pioneers must be courageous.

(6) You can choose to change paradigms ---- to see the world anew.

Note: Another Barker video,Paradigm Pioneers, is also described on this web site.
 


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