Paradigm shifting and stuckness LO28413

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 05/05/02

Sweat LOsteners,

I'm stuck in organizing a paradigm shift.

A paradigm is a kind of language, a grammar and spelling for understanding
our world: rules, laws, principles, rights and also feelings, visions and
left-overs. Also, a paradigm shift doesn't change the world: it gives us a
different interpretation, a new dimension. It resolves some old problems
from the "previous" paradigm in some situations, by redefining the
situation. Every paradigm has a few clouds on the horizon: it looks
splendid, clear, you can see a thousand miles but there seem to be a few
problems, a few unexplainable or strange loops.

The "previous" paradigm is not wrong, not even outdated, it is just as
true as ever in its "normal" situation. That the earth is proven round,
doesn't stop us from using flat maps and treating the earth as flat and
two dimensional in local situations. Quantum and relativistic physics
didn't abolish statistical or classical physics. The evolution theory of
Darwin didn't abolish the needs for beliefs and spirituality; perhaps also
because they serve different purposes. Stars didn't change when we no
longer called them holes in the celestial blanket.

Perhaps a paradigm shift is more a kind of split: splitting concepts that
we fundamentally assume are one, belonging together. Like splitting
philosophy from theology, matters and change, religion and the nature of
this world. So:
 - a paradigm shift resolves one or a number of problems in the old
paradigms (clouds on the horizon).
 - a paradigm shift conserves or contains the old paradigm
 - a paradigm shift splits a core concept of the old paradigm.

The moment for a new paradigm in organizing seems long past due. New
theories and concepts come and go - and they seem to be old wine in new
bottles. Change is running around in circles, staying in the same place
requires speeding up. We have no time - thanks to efficiency - to reflect
on our change. Organizing has a few troublesome components: organizing
groups, teams, functions for improving this world and creating wealth and
the sharing of the same wealth. Success by hard an efficient working
brings success. The way we think now about organisations is in terms of
creating wealth, profit, shareholder value and added value for the
customer in a "free" market. At the same time, the sharing of the wealth,
who will get the biggest share, what is justice, the problem of local
profits that create global problems is closely linked to the theories of
organising. This way of organizing is not "wrong"; it just runs in
problems on a large scale. A small brewery in a town creates a good beer
and everybody shares in the products and the profits. A large co-operation
of breweries creates a global market for an image of beer - or better, a
life style - and large profits for the happy shareholders. But it has
trashed the local breweries, that cannot compete with the economies of
scale. The same is true, in a way, for most of our products and services.
We live in what has been called: McWorld. The new paradigm must resolve
these issues: keeping intact the local breweries, but managing the large
scale breweries. Does ethics play a role?

But now i've framed the paradigm shift in words of the old paradigm: so i
assume it has to do with giving meaning to ones life. Perhaps the split is
located in the very heart of organizing: that we derive our identity from
the organisational position, the work, the function that we have. Why do
we have a problem with the transition from working life to private life?
Why do we use the word corporation? Do we en-corporate the organising?
Should we split the body from the soul of the machine? Stuck.


Kind regards,

Jan Lelie


With kind regards - met vriendelijke groeten,

Jan Lelie

LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development mind@work est. 1998 - Group Resolution Process Support Tel.: (+31) (0)70 3243475 or GSM (car): (+31)(0)65 4685114

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.