Paradigm Shifters

“Rather than an absolute and irrevocable shift from one paradigm to another—which is the way revolutionary advocates of new paradigms often paint the picture—new paradigms and the old exist side-by-side. If we recognize this, we can take a pragmatic approach in choosing from the new and the old paradigms in addressing any given problem.” 

 “We look at the best models and select the one that works best.”- From Yoram Wind and Colin Crook and their book The Power of Impossible Thinking.

Think of James Bond. He always had the greatest gadgets to choose from. He didn’t limit himself to a certain set of tools or set of technologies.

I still have a key to my car. I never seem to use it, but I have it. If the battery runs out in my remote, I will need to use that key. I am comfortable with both and use the best one for the situation.

Though I use email extensively, I appreciate when I receive a hand written note. I recognize that email is a superior paradigm for instant communication, but I am comfortable with both.

The first key for successful church organizations and teams is the ability to recognize when their current mental models or paradigms will serve them effectively and when their current mental models or paradigms will let them down.

The second key is to recognize that past mental models or paradigms may have un-expected value. The ability to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of any paradigm, and move back and forth between new and old has powerful benefits.

“Like matter and energy, no mental model is ever really destroyed. It is just ignored. If we walk one-way from the old paradigm to the new, that is a choice we make to turn our back on the old. If doesn’t mean the old model disappears. But if we recognize that it exists and we look back at it once in a while, we may recognize that it has more value than we had expected. We can then journey between a variety of different mental models to gain new perspectives on our challenges.”

This is the most powerful of all mindset of paradigms. I call it the “Utility Paradigm.” All mental models, all paradigms have utility in certain situations. The ability to look at a problem through the lens of various mental models or paradigms will provide valuable perspective.

According to the authors, there are several strategies that can be useful for determining whether one should add a particular tool or model to your mental teaching tool kit.

Consider the Utility
Is the old model useful to achieve a particular or facilitate a particular activity? Can the new model do this better?

Look for new uses
What are the new uses of the old models?

Put away the old models
If you are not using a model now, set is aside so you can apply the remaining models more effectively.

Don’t trash your old models, archive them
Even when a model has no current utility today and is not included in your active portfolio, it might turn out to be useful to solve some unsolvable problem tomorrow.

Avoid going over to the dark side
If you either reject the new mindset out of hand, or accept it completely, you lose the ability to choose different ways of looking at the world and you erode your ability to convey the new mindset to the folks back at home.

Create an inventory of potential new models
The more you can be conscious of these different models and actively consider them, the better you will be at recognizing the their time has come

Draw together diverse perspective
If these different views can be heard, the organization will have access to a much richer set of options in addressing its challenges.

Create a tool box of models
By assembling this set of models, you then have the freedom and flexibility to quickly access those that can help most in addressing a particular challenge.

Learn how to be comfortable looking wishy-washy
Embracing a diverse set of models based on utility can make you look as if you feared commitment to a single model. You need to be comfortable working with coexisting models that provide utility in different situations.

Remember, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. Churches that embrace the “Utility Paradigm” have within it the ability to adapt effectively for ministry. 

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  1. robjacobs posted this