World History
& Essential Skills



Friedman Paradigm link

Class Summary


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ó n

1. grammar  the set of all the inflected forms of a word or a systematic arrangement displaying these forms
2. a pattern or model
3. a typical or stereotypical example (esp in the phrase paradigm case)
4. (in the philosophy of science) a very general conception of the nature of scientific endeavor within which a given enquiry is undertaken
[C15: via French and Latin from Greek paradeigma  pattern, from paradeiknunai  to compare, from para- 1  + deiknunai  to show]



Don't think for an instant that paradigms don't matter in your life! They do!

The way you think about yourself, the foods you eat, the way you play, your friends, your parents, your house, the career you'll choose, your boyfriend or girlfriend, everything about you can be explained by the paradigms you've developed or been born into.This is Joel Barker's video--if you can't see the video it's because your browser or your security settings won't allow an mp4 to play.

First, since this is a school type assignment and all school type assignments have to have school type stuff (can you say, "Paradigm?" I knew you could!) let's explore the word: Paradigm.

Just what are paradigms?
Joel Barker, famous business consultant and all around nice fellow, describes them as problem-solving systems. They are the way we see the world. Mental models.

Without a doubt, paradigms play a useful role in our everyday lives. They help us filter out data that has no relevance and they provide guidance in unfamiliar situations.

However, unquestioning adherence to a particular paradigm or set of paradigms limits our ability to recognize shifting paradigms.

We forget that many problems have more than one right answer. Employees, managers and leaders who donít understand the role of paradigms are often blinded to other options. Joel Barker didn't invent the idea of Paradigms. Thomas Kuhn did.

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn, wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and popularized the concept of "paradigm shift" (1).

Kuhn was a very smart guy. In 1949 he graduated with a Ph. D. in Physics from Harvard. Being the smart fellow that he was had some drawbacks. For instance, when a person is almost always right that person begins to ask questions like, "Why is everyone I meet so stupid?"

When obvious isn't obvious...
Kuhn noticed that there were times when very intelligent people working around him were performing experiments that had obvious results and simple conclusions that the experimenter couldn't see and didn't conclude! Oh, when the results confirmed what they (the experimenters) wanted to find they saw that data very easily. But when the data differed from the expected results the experimenters had real perceptual problems. "How could someone so intelligent not see the obvious results of their experiments?" was a question Kuhn asked himself. Hmmm...

He concluded that the experimenters in question were quite literally blind to the results of their experiments. They COULD NOT SEE the obvious because they were blind! Blinded by their mental models, their paradigms.

The more he studied mental models, paradigms, the more conclusions he drew. He discovered that people locked into a single paradigm that wasn't true oft times couldn't accept new or contrary data that would enable them to "see the light." He called that Paradigm Paralysis.

Google was a paradigm changer that has become the new paradigm for searching the web. What will become the NEXT Google?He also noticed that when a paradigm changed a revolution in that field occurred. Joel Barker would call it, "going back to zero," meaning that a new level playing field was created for all players. That's a Paradigm Shift.

Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another".

Paradigm Shift--Think of it as a reboot
hink of a Paradigm Shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change. Mavericks. Outsiders.

For example, agriculture changed early primitive society. The primitive Indians in the Americas existed for centuries roaming the earth constantly hunting and gathering for seasonal foods and water. However, by 2000 B.C., Middle America was a landscape of very small villages, each surrounded by patchy fields of corn and other vegetables. The invention of farming was a paradigm shift. The iPhone has defined a new paradigm for whatever this new fangled digital device is--video camera, music player, phone, personal digital assistant...

Agents of change helped create a paradigm-shift moving scientific theory from the Ptolemaic system (the earth at the center of the universe) to the Copernican system (the sun at the center of the universe), and moving from Newtonian physics to Relativity and Quantum Physics. Both movements eventually changed the world view. These transformations were gradual as old beliefs were replaced by the new paradigms creating "a new gestalt" (2).

Likewise, the printing press, the making of books and the use of vernacular language inevitable changed the culture of a people and had a direct affect on the scientific revolution. Johann Gutenberg's invention in the 1440's of movable type was a serious agent of change. Books became readily available, smaller and easier to handle and cheap to purchase. Masses of people acquired direct access to the scriputures. Attitudes began to change as people were relieved from the intellectual gate keeping being practiced by the  church.

Similarly, agents of change are driving a new paradigm shift today. The signs are all around us. For example, the introduction of the personal computer and the internet have impacted both personal and business environments, and is a catalyst for a Paradigm Shift. Newspaper publishing has been reshaped into Web sites, blogging, and web feeds. The Internet has enabled or accelerated the creation of new forms of human interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking sites. We are shifting from a mechanistic, manufacturing, industrial society to an organic, service based, information centered society, and increases in technology will continue to impact globally. Change is inevitable. It's the only true constant.

On August 9, 2011, Apple Computer saw its stock price rise enough -- gaining more than 5% -- to briefly surpass Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company in the U.S., according to an Associated Press analysis of its market cap. (Exxon Mobile wound up the day slightly ahead of Apple.) But think about the implications! What does Apple make? Things that enable websites to be made, read, accessed, and that house files to be downloaded into machines that Apple makes to play them! The paradigm has shifted.

Sticking with the paradigm for articles to be read in class, here comes the conclusion:
For millions of years we have been evolving and will continue to do so. Change is difficult. Human Beings resist change; however, the process has been set in motion long ago and we will continue to co-create our own experience. Kuhn states that "awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes of theory"
(3). It all begins in the mind of the person. What we perceive, whether normal or metanormal, conscious or unconscious, are subject to the limitations and distortions produced by our inherited and socially conditional nature. However, we are not restricted by this for we can change. We are moving at an accelerated rate of speed and our state of consciousness is transforming and transcending. Many are awakening as our conscious awareness expands.

Link to Thomas Friedman's view of YOUR changing paradigm! Please mouse over and click on this link. It's your homework assignment!

1. Kuhn, Thomas, S., "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Second Edition, Enlarged, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970(1962), (p.10)

2. Kuhn, Thomas, S., "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Second Edition, Enlarged, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970(1962), (p. 112)

3. Kuhn, Thomas, S., "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Second Edition, Enlarged, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970(1962), (p. 67)

If you walk into room 170 at Oxbridge Academy and ask any student what a paradigm is they'll tell you:
Paradigms are mental models that
filter incoming data.

Organizations need to innovate and change in order to survive. So why are so many people afraid of change? How do you help people open themselves up to change?

Joel Barker's best selling training program, The New Business of Paradigms, explains how the rules we live by can limit our ability to innovate and be creative. In example after example, Mr. Barker demonstrates how thinking differently is necessary for us to grow as organizations and as individuals.


Key Concepts
Paradigms Are Common.
Paradigms Are Useful.
Donít Let Your Paradigm Become The Paradigm.
Outsiders Bring New Paradigms.
Shifting Paradigms Takes Courage.
You Can Choose To Change Your Paradigm.


Organizations and the people in them need to be able to identify and work with changing paradigms. And equally as important, they need to be able to generate their own new paradigms. Unless that happens, the organization is bound to stagnate.

Leaders and employees will forget about innovating. Instead, they will assume that successful strategies from the past will also lead to future success. Thatís an increasingly erroneous assumption.
                           --Joel Barker



Work: The Future
Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day ó more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer?                
                         --Thomas Friedman

Can you imagine this ad appearing in a magazine today? How many modern paradigms are violated here?