Careful, You Might Be Stuck In Your Own Paradigm

Paradigm Image

Many people in the business world know and realize to be successful, a culture shift is required. As it’s been said, the only constant is “change”. But are these individuals “open-minded” or captive in a paradigm? Now, they can be passionate about a concept they know will work. But a paradigm can inhibit their ability.

A paradigm is a standard, perspective, or set of ideas. It’s a way of looking at something. Therefore, one would think that a paradigm is a good thing. Well, not so fast. A paradigm might also hinder a person from seeing the entire picture. Let me explain.

Actual Paradigm Example

In my quest to become an effective leader, I read many books. I highly recommend that people read Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. In the book, there are three different pictures that are on three different pages. The pictures are pencil drawings.  There is one picture that is the side profile of a young pretty woman. Then there is a portrait picture of an old woman. The last picture is a combination of the other two.

When I taught supervision, I would give half of the class the young woman’s pictures and the other half the old woman. I asked them to look only at the picture given to them for a minute. After one minute, I projected the combined picture on the screen. Then they were asked what they saw. The responses were that of the picture they were given. Confusion immediately set in. The group that was given the young woman asked where the other group saw the old woman. And visa versa. They talked back and forth and some of them figured it out. But not everyone. Then I projected all three images and the class did figure it out. (Those 3 images are in the featured photo at the top of this posting)

Lesson Objective

Without knowing it, the class was taught two different paradigms. They only saw in the combined picture what they consider to be their viewpoint. And there is nothing wrong with that. One can’t expect to know everything. When the lack of understanding of two different pictures being in the combined picture arose, some grasped the difference when they discussed it. The others agreed with both ladies in the combined picture with the visual aid of all 3 different pictures being displayed.

It is important to apply this lesson in both the workplace and in life. An effective leader has emotional intelligence. Not only are they teaching the team members, but they are also willing to learn from them too. For example, when there is a disagreement, talk to the employee to understand their viewpoint. And if there is still disagreement, then ask them to show you. Who knows, maybe the leader will learn something. Even if it’s to explain to the person why their idea won’t work.

Keep an Open Mind

Regardless of knowledge, keep an open mind. Even to those outside your field of expertise. Leadership is leadership regardless of what field you are in. A good leader will coach and motivate. They know the vision and works with others to obtain it. If that wasn’t the case, why do big leadership consultants go into any industry to teach leadership?

The same holds true in process improvement. Is it necessary to understand the exact knowledge of the industry to improve processes? No. Maybe too much knowledge of the industry creates paradigms that may hinder the best outcome. Sometimes an outsider asks more questions to get a better understanding that could develop into some great improvements. Remember, executives, live with the results of the problems. The people doing the work live with the actual problem. How do I know this philosophy works? Because I did it. Contact me if you want to know the details.

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