Penny de Valk: 'Paradigm' might be a stupid word, but it can also be a useful one

Share
Related Topics

It's a wonderful piece of New Age jargon, I know, but the reality is that the economic and social shifts we are experiencing are a paradigm shift. So here is a story about paradigms.

There's this man who is driving his beautiful sports car down his favourite stretch of road. It's a great day and he's really enjoying himself. As he comes to a corner, a car screams around the corner on the wrong side of the road, coming in the opposite direction. It is careering all over the road and comes at him in his lane. Just as they are about to collide, it swerves away, and as it races past he sees there is a woman driver and she yells out "Pig!"

He yells back and waves his fist; he's furious, how dare she, he was on the right side of the road. Angrily he changes down and turns the corner quickly, and smacks straight into the pig.

From the existing paradigm of "you call me a name and I'll call you a name!," he was blinded to the warning she was giving him about what lay ahead.

Paradigms are just sets of rules that enable us to organise the world. They establish boundaries and tell us how to be successful by solving problems within these boundaries.

They filter incoming experience. We view the world through our paradigms all the time. We constantly select from the world the information that best fits our rules and regulations.

Although paradigms are useful because they give us rules for what works in our lives, we have to be aware of being limited by them. What worked yesterday won't work today.

The rules are being broken today more than ever, our paradigms are shifting. And they are shifting because the established rules of the game no longer provide effective solutions to our problems.

Paradigms are important – they focus our attention, they concentrate our efforts on what we have deemed to be important, they give us the confidence to solve problems. But they can also block our vision. They seduce us with their success. When confronted with a profoundly new and different way to look at the future, we may reject it because it doesn't fit the rules we are already so good at.

Penny de Valk is chief executive of the Institute of Leadership and Management. She spoke at Public Sector Skills on Monday night

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz