Many have experienced huge shifts in our psychological, and social spheres of life Moreover, the relationship of these to the world of work has prompted the term paradigm shift becoming a major topic of discussion just about everywhere. Although it may be too early to predict a scientific paradigm shift at this time, the implications of the pandemic will certainly evoke massive changes in how business is done and how organizations function. Everyone has done soul-searching on the personal and occupational impact of the pandemic on their lives.
“What does this mean for my physical health and emotional well-being? My family and friends? My community, city/town, and state? My country and my world”? And how about “My _________?”
Physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn used the word paradigm (worldview) to describe one’s assumptions and understanding of reality which are based on accepted models and principles of science at a place in time.
While “The Kuhn Cycle,” is a four-phase scientific theory, mindful organizational leaders can benefit by a point made in Phase 4 (see link below for more on Kuhn’s Cycle). We start at Phase 3 (crafted with an organizational, in contrast to scientific, focus):
- “Phase 3: Crisis” describes where we are at present. We have a catalyst (coronavirus) that has perturbed our psycho-social norms and transformed the way we approach and do life and work.
- “Phase 4- Revolution” describes the establishment of a new paradigm with the next point being not only surprising but non-scientific; the reasons for the emergence of a new paradigm are largely psychological and sociological. (https://www.simplypsychology.org/Kuhn-Paradigm.html)
The Organizational Setting
My take? We cannot predict when or whether a new scientific paradigm will occur. But given the enormous impact on our lives and livelihoods, we can seize workforce opportunities at this unprecedented time.
As space (and your time & attention) is limited, I will discuss one option of many to consider as you begin to strategize new approaches and configurations in your organization. Peter Senge, in “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization” (1990/2006), suggests a disciplined approach. Every organization (10 – 500 – 10,000 people – and beyond) will respond differently but the rules are the same. These disciplines can lead to success in all organizations:
- Personal Mastery: Deepening and enhancing our vision, energies, patience, and seeing reality as it is, not as we would like it to be.
- Mental Models: Examining and re-assessing our assumptions, i.e., how we view the world.
- Building Shared Vision: This process of unearthing shared pictures of the organization’s future state which fosters engagement and commitment by all members.
- Team Learning: Vital to discovering group insights not attainable by individual learning.
- Systems Thinking: The “discipline that integrates the disciplines, fusing them into a coherent body of theory and practice” (p.12). This is the unifying concept in that all systems (people, businesses, environment for example) are not separate but interdependent (Senge, 1990/2006, pp. 5-14).
If you are a leader (owner, CEO, manager/supervisor), assemble 5-8 of your peers and pose the question, “What does all this upheaval and change mean for your group?” “What are your “pictures” of the future at our/your organization?”
And if you are an HR leader, you are skilled in the human processes aspect of getting work done. Ask several key leaders to consider this potential paradigm shift and what it means to them and ask how they can create community and commitment by their people sharing their vision or “pictures” of the future. People want to contribute – and are just waiting to be asked.
What about engagement? You may have found that many engagement “techniques” result in feeling good and valued…but only for a time. Creating a culture of learning is self-sustaining and continues to benefit all organizational entities because it is dynamic in nature and engages all participants: associates, units, and departments.
I hope this topic and discussion provided you with a springboard to developing a deep, constructive shifting dialogue in whatever space you choose.
As always, contact me to facilitate organization awareness and growth in your workplace. I am available for an initial gratis consultation (let me know how much time you need) about your situation and questions you may have. Sometimes, simply brainstorming on how to start can be helpful.
Stay well and stay connected. I look forward to having a discussion with you.
Joe Lemmon, PhD
P.S. For additional “starter” ideas, see our site settings for “Team Development” and “Organization Change”
Reference: Senge, Peter M. (1990/2006.) The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization,
New York, NY: Random House LLC.