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Paradigms and Transformed Views

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn describes a paradigm is a set of beliefs, theories, or a world view that is unquestioningly accepted and has become established as "truth." Thus a paradigm shift is a change in the existing view, which creates a shift in the established truth, and makes new things possible.

The use of the concept of paradigms and paradigm shifts can be useful in the identification of new opportunities and fundamental, step or transformational change.

The simple question is - what is it that we cannot do today, but if we could would change everything.

The premise here is that if we take away all constraints, the majority of which are self imposed, or imposed by our experience, or that of others, it becomes easier to first think of a different way and second act in a different way.

An alternative but related technique to 'open up thinking' and create opportunity is to transform our view (or position. This can be done in a number of ways:
  • We can think about something from the point of view of a different timescales. How would we address this issue if we were living in 2017, how would we have dealt with it if were living in 1887? The future date allows us to think freely about how things might be in our ideal future; the backward look can sometimes unhook us from today's technological mindset and/or show us just how far some things have come - reinforcing the idea that there is opportunity for something different
  • We can also try to think of things from a different view point - to transform our view point to that of someone else. How would I view this problem if I were my mother, the CEO, a politician, a customer, a union official, an MBA, Genghis Khan, Florence Nightingale etc
  • Another view point is to take away limits. How would I address this problem if money were unlimited, time was unlimited, resources were unlimited, if the world would sink into the sea in 30 days, if I were the Queen?
  • And finally to look at things from the opposite side. So rather than ask how can we motivate the team to do x we say what would guarantee to demotivate them and cause the project to fail? Sometimes identifying the demotivators can be easier (not to mention more fun) and can shed valuable light on what should be done and indeed what should be avoided

All of these techniques share the same goal - to free up thinking, and to generate alternatives

Published by: Lisette on 25/03/2009 - Add a comment

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