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Thursday, September 4, 2008

HSoftware (Human Software): Paradigms

(Refer our High Quality Management Encyclopedia at:

(For more benefits to you, it will be a good idea also to read all of my previous write-ups on the topic).

(You may also like to read "Paradigm and Paradigm Shift" at:

In my earlier write-ups, I wrote that from my observations of large number of people during my long years of business executive and management consultant life in the corporate sector, I have arrived on an understanding that the "human software (HSoftware)" or "programming of mind" consists of following four elements or factors:

1. Human beliefs or human value structure
2. Knowledge and information base (both rational and emotional)
3. Paradigms (mindsets or thinking patterns)
4. Will or enthusiasm (motivation) to act or execute (responsible for skill or competency development)

Of these, I have already described the first two factors. In this write-up I will describe the third factor i.e. "paradigms".

Paradigms to my mind are not so obvious to people as values or knowledge. Therefore, it needs more explanation.

Paradigms can also be called as mindsets or thinking patterns. Paradigms give the world view to an individual- the way he perceives the world. Knowledge and value also shape up one's world view but despite knowledge and values, large number of people are more led by their paradigms than any thing else.

Paradigms do not get formed only by the correct and comprehensive knowledge or values. Large number of times they get formed by incomplete, inaccurate, biased and traditional knowledge and values. Therefore, paradigms are different from knowledge and values.

There are thousands of paradigms on hundreds of things at any given time in a human being's mind. They dictate one's minute to minute thinking and actions. The results are outcomes of such thinking and action.

If the paradigms resident in one's mind are up to date and correct, his thinking, his direction of actions and the actions will be correct and effective. He is likely to achieve better results in a better manner. Conversely, the people with out-of-date paradigms and in-correct paradigms will find a less correct direction for actions, less effective actions and therefore, the results will not be up to mark. A person who has a paradigm of meritocracy will always try to find job on his own merit and the person who has a paradigm that a candidate for a job is not selected on merits but is selected based on some influential personality's recommendation, will try to find out as to who can recommend him. His efforts could have been perhaps better utilized in improving his knowledge and skills so that he does not have to depend on some one's recommendations any longer.

On the same issue different persons can have different paradigms. when asked to define an ideal family, I get more than 14 to 15 different responses from people. And each one thinks that his response to defining the ideal family is the most correct and each one is willing to argue and fight out to prove how is he correct. Interesting!! Proves the point. They do not understand the fact that every person is unique and every person has his own paradigm of seeing what makes an ideal family- every person has his own "human software", the "programming of mind". What is wrong or right here, we are not making any judgment or evaluation right now. But surely, smaller families make more sense these days than the lager families with more number of kids because of the financial and social circumstances. This social paradigm on family size has already, surely and gradually shifted. No one knew as to when did it happen. But it did happen. That's why no body spoke of having 6 or 7 or 8 or 10 children which was the norm (paradigm) in the days gone by.

So, one should always be on look out for the most appropriate or correct paradigms. As the times change, as the technologies, markets and business processes change, as the social reforms take place, the paradigms in technological, business, family, social and political arena also keep on shifting ahead. Being rigid on a paradigm does not help. You must be be flexible. If the paradigms shift in a particular problem area and you are stuck with the older paradigm on it, you will try to solve the problem with a less effective or completely ineffective paradigm. The older paradigm that you are still holding in your mind might have already become obsolete for the new situation.

There is a serious resistance to change due to the paradigms ingrained in the minds. Rationally you may accept a new paradigm but emotionally you like to go back to your old one since that gives you more comfort. You have been in the old paradigm for a long time and probably, you have been successful so far because of that. Then, you don't like to accept the new paradigm in that area. Way back, I have been working on implementing computerization in a large private limited company in the corporate sector. The chief accountant was accustomed to preparing payroll for the employees of the company manually. Under pressure from all the quarters, the chief accountant had to accept the implementation of the new computerized payroll. Yet, he did not like it. He would come back to me and my team with several problems in the computerized system every day and went on doing it and creating problems for us even after the system was running pretty smoothly for several months. One day I told him that we were withdrawing and stopping the system now on and he could go back to his manual system which he point blank refused. He had got used to the computerized system so much and could experience its enormous advantages over the manual system, it was hard for him to accept going back to his old paradigm of doing work manually. People do change but after lots of unnecessary resistance. Those who embrace the new paradigms early on reap their advantages early on and others who resist lose on them. The ones who are initiators of new paradigms are called "paradigm pioneers". They have to have great courage and trust in their newly invented or found paradigm since the new paradigm has not been tested as yet and they don't know as to how effective it may prove to be in the future.

Switzerland is the well known example of how it lost out the world watch market in early 1980s where it had 80% to 85% share of business and plummeted down to less than 10%. It had all to do with technological paradigm shift from mechanical watches to electronic quartz watches. The investors and industrialists and CEOs of the Swiss watch companies showed the designers of quartz technology the door when they presented them the new paradigm of quartz technology. Then, they displayed their new invention in the world watch congress in USA. Texas Instruments of USA and Seiko of Japan took one look at the new technology and rest is history. Do you know who invented this technology? Many of you may be knowing that quartz technology was invented in the laboratories of Switzerland. Why do you think the wise bosses of watch making companies of Switzerland rejected such a wonderful technology and hung on to the mechanical watches? It is all to do with resistance to change because the old paradigm had given them so much success in the past. Why should they change to a new paradigm? They were after all the world leaders in watch making. But when paradigms shift, every one goes back to zero, the old paradigms no longer work. The past successes can not be extrapolated in the future continuing with the old paradigm. You can no longer sit on the past glory.

People give high weightages to their paradigms. And they think that what they believe in or where they put more weightage, is the most accurate thing. However, they do not understand that their that belief is based on very limited observations or incomplete knowledge or one sided view. Many of the paradigms also get formed in the minds of the people this way. And they think, that is the gospel truth. Problem starts now because that has become their mindset- the thinking pattern and their actions are getting guided by that paradigm. It may lead to disasters.

Americans lost out to Japanese in car making because Americans were following old paradigms of manufacturing and Japanese invented and used new and more effective paradigms on manufacturing and quality. They gave us the famous zeros: zero defects (TQM), zero inventory (JIT), zero breakdowns (TPM).

There are right and wrong paradigms in abundance. But there is no directory or repository of correct and emerging paradigms. One has to be alert about them; look out for them and first of all, every one should know that there is something called "paradigm" which is very powerful and can make him either more effective or less effective.

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