Shift your paradigms
To develop a business over time, be prepared to shift your paradigms in order to be innovative, creative and competitive, says Brian H Meredith.
A young man purchased a brand new, soft top, red sports car. On the first Sunday of his ownership, the sky was blue, the day was warm and he decided to take her for a spin in the country (wonder why men call cars “her”?).
He was on a forest road, approaching a bend and a car came hurtling around in the other direction and on the wrong side of the road. As it passed him just inches away the woman driver yelled to him “Pig!”
“OMG!” he thought. “Why would she call me that? I was on the right side of the road and SHE was on the wrong side of the road!” He drove into the bend. And ran into the pig. The paradigm? A woman driver paradigm. And he was wrong. He thought she was driving erratically and she was simply trying to warn him of a risk.
Life is full of paradigms. Millions of them. In fact, every aspect and every detail of our lives are filled with paradigms. A paradigm is, in effect, a mental template which allows us to sort stuff out in our minds without getting confused.
For example, our car paradigm says that a car has four wheels, an internal combustion engine, a steering wheel, gearbox, seats, etc. So when someone says “car” we know exactly what they mean.
But what if the car didn’t have four wheels? Didn’t have an internal combustion engine? Had no steering wheel? Then most of us would think that this did not constitute a car.
So, why are paradigms important in business?
Well, the primary reason is that, as we develop our businesses over time we need to be prepared to shift paradigms in order to be innovative, creative and competitive.
How many typewriter manufacturers are still in business? And how many of them were at the leading edge of developing word processing applications? The answer is, largely, none. Typewriter manufacturers were locked into the typewriter paradigm and failed to shift that paradigm which was, in fact, done in a totally different place and space. The result was the death of the typewriter and the businesses that produced them.
And what if drills are replaced by a simple laser device that is more accurate than a drill, quieter than a drill, safer that a drill and cleaner than a drill? Available in your DIY store for just $29.95? Is this likely to be developed by a drill manufacturer? Or a laser technology company?
Remember televisions? Sure you do and most of us still have one. But for how much longer? The paradigm is being shifted, but not by the TV manufacturers or broadcasters or production companies. It’s a whole range of other specialist sectors that are heading down a number of tracks that will cause televisions to be obsolete in the very near future.
Shifting of paradigms means, apart from anything else, a concentration on “what” before “how”. And then “how” follows – innovatively, creatively and excitingly.
And bank tellers? Yes, they still exist but to a much lesser extent than they did and their role and numbers are declining. Why? Because the paradigm of bank service is changing dramatically and, like televisions, tellers are likely to be extinct before too much longer.
So yes, of course it’s important for your business to ensure that its current product or service offerings meet the needs of your market as effectively, efficiently and affordably as possible. Concentrate on the “what” and the better your understanding of this grows, the easier it’ll be to be innovative and creative and shift paradigms.
But whilst you are doing this, start thinking about paradigms and heading to the extreme boundaries of what you do and what customers say and believe they want or need, and work constantly on new, different, innovative and creative solutions.
But never forget that in this space, customers don’t know what they could need or want or what they could have. Did your mother ever put a chicken into the oven but consciously think that it would be great to have a device that could zap this chicken in 15 minutes? And yet the microwave arrived anyway.
Here is the big question to apply to the concept of paradigm shifting:
“Concentrate on the ‘what’ and the better your understanding of this grows, the easier it’ll be to be innovative and creative and shift paradigms.”
“What, that is impossible to do today, if it could be done, would fundamentally change the future of our business?”
Work on that question yourself. Involve your management and staff; find ways to seek your customer’s answers; process it all and do it constantly. It will produce 99 percent of waffle, bunkum and balderdash but the one percent that cracks the code will drive the future of your business into its next phase.
That will excite the heck out of you. Honestly!