July 8, 2020

What’s Wrong and Who Do I Blame for It? – a paradigm that uses us

This year, your plans are not going as intended. Your goals, objectives, areas of concern are not being achieved as you thought they would. You suspect it is your employees or managers, unreasonable customers, challenging market conditions, prices skyrocketing, shrinking budgets, hiring freezes are to blame. Ultimately… you blame yourself. Something is wrong and you do not know where to begin to fix it. And even if you did, would it work anyway?

Now, here’s the question: If you had a say in the matter, would you have had it turn out that way?  Beyond the things you have no control over…the answer is of course not!

Sidebar: Mick, a good friend and business colleague and I were having coffee at Starbucks… he was expressing some sadness around having problems in his relationship. He was considering leaving. I said, you know, there are over 450,000 books that offer advice on relationships on Amazon.com. There are books on how to get along, how to make money work, how to have great fun together, how to communicate, all the tips, solutions and techniques one needs to experience a nurturing relationship. I said, Mick, that tells me something. It tells me nobody knows anything about relationships. There ought to be one or two books that actually make a difference when practiced. Then I said,

I have looked at many of those books. I could not find one book that said anything about “what is a relationship?” Not one!

Well, how can you fix, improve, or make relationships work better, when you have no idea what the design is, as lived. You need to know what you are dealing with to make a difference. You need to know the default design that is at play. He shouted… ludicrous! Why don’t we know that!

Mick, we are blind to the fact that there is a default design to being related that determines the outcomes. It’s inescapable that things will go the way the paradigm or default design dictates. By being fixated with improving, finding solutions or answers, we cannot see the true nature of what we are dealing with. By the way, it’s not that you shouldn’t look for answers. But the answers you do find also hide the default design.

We heroically battle to change and reorganize our organizations, hire consultants to fix things, bring in trainers, fire employees and replace them with new hopefuls, oust CEOs, find new VPs, and things still do not work out. It has been statistically shown that over 75% of improvement efforts inside organizations fail to provide what is necessary in implementation. Why is this the case?

We cannot see the source of people’s behaviors and actions. People do not act in their best self-interest. They act out of the perception of what is happening or more accurately of how things “occur” or “show up” for them. This translates to the organization as well. What if a paradigm of organization is running the show and we do not know it, and don’t know, that we don’t know it. We are blind and blame everything around us and cannot see the truth.

What is a paradigm?   According to Joel Barker, author of “Paradigms, this Business of Discovering the Future”, a paradigm is a set of rules and regulations (hidden, and unseen) that does two things 1. It establishes or defines boundaries; and 2. It tells you how to behave inside boundaries in order to survive or succeed.

The paradigm that runs organizational behavior is expressed in beliefs and assumptions of what you consider to be the way it is…a network of ideas, beliefs, biases, social and cultural embedded-ness, and taken-for-granted assumptions that constitute our worldview (model of reality) about the world, others, and ourselves, and our frame of reference (mindset) relative to this subject or that subject.

Sidebar: Lera Boroditsky, cognitive scientist and professor at Stanford University, has written an article “How Does Language Shape the Way we Think”. https://www.edge.org/conversation/lera_boroditsky-how-does-our-language-shape-the-way-we-think).

She gets at the power language (the speaking and listening we engage in) has how we perceive or see circumstances).

She performed an interesting experiment in which she set out to prove that language had nothing to do with perception. She worked with several groups of people who spoke different languages. French, German, Russian etc. By showing the different groups the same shade of blue on a card, she proposed that whether you spoke any particular language it would have no impact on your perception of that specific shade of blue. To her annoyance and dismay… language did impact their perception of colors and that those who spoke different languages saw a different shade of blue than was there. The only way to stop those perceptions was to take away language. She discovered that when you change the way you speak, it changes your thinking and you see the world differently and even behave differently.

Why is this important…it is important because the main paradigm of organization (which lives in the oral traditions and conversations of the organization we work in) is filtered by the language given of “what is wrong and who do I blame for it?”  That language acts as a filter, worldview or frame of reference for life. We think with it, speak from it, and are unaware it is in the background giving us our views of life.

We sometimes behave righteously, have debates in meetings, dominate one another with our points of view and agendas, justifying ourselves, alienating and feeling separate and alone, protective, and hesitate to correct and learn from our mistakes – we live in a fear-based environment. Not much room for anything new to show up.

So we focus on improving, fixing, changing, and looking for more, better and different solutions to our problems. If we could see the paradigm for what it is…a worldview and frame of reference that determines the scale of outcomes…if we can accept, embrace that way of seeing the world that is given to us automatically, see it as how things are, realize that there is no escape from it, own it as ours, we could then create a new paradigm (context) that would steer us in new, unique and creative directions.

The work Integritas Consulting Group does is unique and different. We offer consulting programs and program packages that help build a created culture. We provide access to seeing what is in the background running the show, those blind spots. Then by embracing and accepting the paradigms for what they are, you are on the first step to getting beyond them. To being the author of one’s life rather than at effect of it.

If you wish to learn more email me at barry@integritasconsult.com and we will explore together.

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