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October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Our paradigm is our lens on everything.  It is how we make sense of reality.  For example, a deterministic paradigm is a lens that makes you see everything in terms of cause and effect.  It gives you a mechanistic lens with which to make sense of the world.  Determinism can be a really useful perspective – one way of looking at things – but it becomes a problem if it is your paradigm – THE way in which you look at things.

Potential clients often hope that we, as consultants, can bring a clearly defined answer to a problem they are facing.  Often times they are approaching us from a mechanistic paradigm, hoping we have the one piece that will finally make the machine work.  But we are process consultants; we focus on the “how” more than the “what.”

In one of her brain pickings posts today, Maria Popova highlights what she refers to as “Philosopher Thomas Nagel’s Brave Critique of Scientific Reductionism.”  The subtitle is spot on:

How our hunger for definitive answers robs us of the intellectual humility necessary for understanding the universe and our place in it.

We are literally robbing ourselves of possibility.  We have been educated and culturally conditioned under a scientific paradigm that demands a final and clear answer.  We live in an evolving universe and yet we are binding ourselves to a deterministic idea of how this miracle works.

If you are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, if you are passionate about your mission but dissatisfied with the pace of progress, you might want to reconsider your paradigm.  How deterministic are you?  How seduced are you by the mechanistic ideal?  How badly do you need a pre-defined answer?

Perhaps you need a different approach, an approach that is less about knowing the right and final answer and more about what it takes to find the next best answer.

We are in the middle of a paradigm shift of truly historic proportions.  We are looking at the possibility of an evolutionary leap.  Join those of us who are trying to undo the binds of determinism.  Let’s become explorers of a universe we don’t really fully know.

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  • chad says:

    absolutely. and …

    as i read these six paragraphs and two liftquotes, I am hankering for what IT is?
    it is one thing to be clear that it is (and we are) not: the mechanistic, the determinism or the deterministic paradigm. so, what then, is it? who are we, if we get beyond the broken, defunct or extinct paradigms of the 20th century?

    to borrow a lesson from politics and social movements, there are a set of choices and consequences when we define ourselves as what we are not. whether anti-war, against gay marriage, anti-choice or anti-imperialism. they can help differentiate us from some (perceived) other, but that does not assure that we know ourselves nor our universe any better.

    however, there comes a time, a pivot, and a paradigm shift, when we define who and what we are. what we are. by giving that a name (or a label) it can help us comprehend what it is that we are talking about. by remaining nameless (or undefined), it is much harder to describe or share or show someone else.

  • Gibran says:

    I’m going to turn this comment into a blog post by you!

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