Unlocking value by shifting paradigms
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
An existing 'paradigm' is a model or a view on any subject held by many. A 'paradigm shift' is a fundamental change from the current way of thinking.
In a previous blog, I showed examples of the impact of changing from our existing approach to giving to charity. As proposed, the charity, or its supporting foundation, does not immediately receive all the funds. Instead, some portion of the money goes to an independent party to invest as 'seed funds.' Over time, these invested seed funds grow to reach a target value.
At that target value level, the charity or supporting foundation receives the donation from the independent party. Given enough time, seed funding of any size can grow to enormous sums.
The value unlocked is the charitable works addressed and the improved lives of those assisted. Many more lives will contribute much more, or cost society much less, than they would have without these charitable works.
This new charitable donation paradigm is scary. The time required over decades and centuries introduces a high level of the unknown. What will our collective future be like? Will planned investment growth be successful? Will the management of the funds be accountable, transparent, and responsible? Will charitable needs eventually be significantly addressed?
Many attitudes and beliefs have changed throughout human history. New paradigms have proven to usher in significant value to society. Sometimes they are intimidating. They represent the unknown and may even create a backlash by challenging norms and authority.
We can take some comfort and gain a deeper understanding of paradigm shift impacts by looking at examples that have unlocked great value.
Shift One: Copernicus declared that our earth was not the centre of the universe, in a theory known as heliocentrism. He was encouraged by the Catholic Church to write about his discoveries. Many years after Copernicus's death in 1543, Galileo confirmed and endorsed the theory using new telescope technology. However, Galileo's fate was to be investigated by the Roman Inquisition, which in 1633 found him guilty of promoting heliocentrism and imprisoned Galileo for the rest of his days. Galileo's incredible body of work marked another step towards the eventual separation of science from philosophy and religion, a significant development in human thought.
The scientific method Galileo helped promote was of priceless value to humanity. Scientific thinking helps us make sense of the world, inspiring and facilitating our collective abilities. It frees us from being controlled by superstition, magical thinking, and the influence of corrupt power-seekers.
Shift Two: Introducing the importance of cleanliness to the world was, perhaps, one of the most significant in terms of medical value. Ignaz Semmelweis is now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. In 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital's First Obstetrical Clinic, he discovered washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions saved lives.
Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions. He could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and mocked him for it. After a nervous breakdown, he was committed by his colleagues to an asylum where he died. Pasteur's Germ Theory in 1864 confirmed the need for cleanliness.
Shift Three: Today, we see the continuing fight for emancipation across race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. To some extent, this has liberated millions, but the battle for such liberation is not yet complete. Paradigm shifts can take a tremendous toll on their purveyors.
Connected closely to emancipation is education. By emancipating and educating our populations, and equalizing opportunity for all, economic value will be unleashed.
Heliocentrism declared by Copernicus led to Galileo’s imprisonment.
Change agents often face strong resistance from recipients, who may feel threatened, shaken, uncomfortable, distracted, or inconvenienced. Such transformations can undermine those affected in position, security, ability to influence others, and may create fear of widening into greater circles of change.
Brain research has shown that resistance to modifications is not only a psychological reaction but a physiological reaction. Acting in new ways requires more brainpower. The brain reacts by reverting to ways we already know, being the path of least resistance.
No wonder even seemingly small adjustments can cause so much pushback! However, the value does not come from the change itself, but rather from those that get adopted and used.
To ensure the adoption of new ideas the recommended approaches include communicating benefits, watching for, and addressing root causes of friction, and building and demonstrating support for change by leaders in the recipient’s society.
Those of us who are self-confident, hopeful, and optimistic may perhaps be the first to see potential value for humanity of our proposed paradigm shift.
I hope we can collectively come to embrace the idea. It may be a challenging quest, but the opportunity it presents is worth the struggle.
Thanks for reading this month’s installment.
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