Emerging Paradigms

Said one paradigm to another: “Shift Happens!.

Our current generation of leaders was raised in a unique era in western history, one that is in all probability over.  The assumptions that are in ingrained in most of us are a liability; and must be shaken, altered forever if we are to rethink and vision our way toward a more sustainable 21st century model.

Our plans, strategies and decisions must be couched in an understanding of the current socio-institutional evolution.  Literally, every foundation that we have taken for granted is shifting.  The old is giving way to the new on a daily basis.

The challenge of course, is that we are providing leadership to stakeholders and communities who fall into three clear categories:

  • those that understand and embrace the changes that are taking place and want their leaders to move the new agenda forward
  • those that are aware of the (impending) shifts but reluctant to respond until some sort of ‘critical mass’ has developed, and
  • those that cling to old ways of doing business, many nearing retirement and just not willing to personally invest in the degree of change and new skill development implied.

Our leaders are playing out their short term roles in the midst of a long term transition that will alter every aspect of economic, social and ecological life.  Each element of the transition is inevitable, is proceeding or evolving at its own pace; and is championed by many, resisted by others.  Those in key positions focus on the immediate and the tangible, often only vaguely aware of the fundamental values, beliefs, attitudes and social behaviours that underlie the debate about how we will use new technologies and opportunities to shape the future.

Increasingly, perceptive leaders with courage will champion that transition and utlize emerging values and beliefs as the criteria upon which alternatives, options and recommendations are judged.

In the meantime, we are simply muddling through together – managing from the middle while waiting for some sign of a tipping point.  Both world views have representatives fighting for either the left or right side of the tables in this post.  On a grand scale, we are witnessing the dysfunction in William Bridges ‘In Between Zone’.  The old way is refusing to end; the new way has yet to fully emerge.

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