Surviving Your Paradigms

Surviving Your Paradigms - People Development Network
Khashayar Xerxes Voshmgir is a change facilitator, keynote speaker, coach and co-founder of an Austrian based think- & do-tank focused on sustainable change and re-invention processes. He has worked on projects in Europe, Asia and the USA.

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Revolutions need new paradigms

With the emergence of the Internet of Things and big data, most businesses are intrigued by emerging future opportunities. At the same time, many are frightened by the burgeoning security, privacy and ethical issues. Some business leaders wonder if they even need to embrace this development, as it would mean pursuing something that many consider to be a threat.

However, with the emergence of new technologies there is a realistic chance of making things better, more ethical and more sustainable for the future, but revolutions need new paradigms. The market economy could become a threat to society if we try to evaluate new technologies and opportunities through old paradigms. If we challenge our current paradigms in order to create sustainable and meaningful value propositions, and in order to create working environments that result in innovation and the creation of new perspectives, ethical and healthy capitalism can succeed.

Today’s leaders need to challenge paradigms in the fields of value creation, human resources and, above all, about the “truth” and actuality of their beliefs.

Profit and Value

Most Fortune 500 companies are driven to maximize shareholder value. This practice has been questioned in recent years. Some companies have tried to move towards stakeholder-driven value propositions; most of them have failed. Others have simply not attempted to pursue any fundamental change, instead justifying concerns about their future existence should they fail to transform according to plan.

However, there are certain paradigms leaders should reconsider in this respect. Some examples are listed below:

Growth needs to be constant – eventually!

To state that growth cannot be constant, used to be a left-wing, anti-capitalist notion. Nevertheless, in the light of economic history it is clear that the concept of constant growth is a myth.

Only the strongest survive!

Darwin talked about the fittest, not the strongest, and by fittest he meant adaptable. Dinosaurs were the strongest, cockroaches the most adaptable.

Win-Lose: If there is a winner, there must be a loser!

This is a necessary truth in sports. In business, society, politics and the economy, win-win-win is the only sustainable solution.

Profit should be measured in bucks, right?

This belief still appears to be the ultimate truth. However, when societies and the environment are on the verge of collapsing, value will be the new profit.

The Way Companies Hire People

The “war for talent” has led many companies to re-evaluate their paradigms about human resources. Nevertheless, according to the Gallup Institute only three in ten American employees are highly engaged in their work. Employee satisfaction, company cultures, and working environments are just some of the areas that need further improvement, consequently matching people with jobs has become more important than ever.

There is one major paradigm almost nobody has challenged over the last few decades: Recruitment experts know best who to hire and how to match people with jobs.

However, studies have shown that at least 30% of workers turn out to be mismatches. Gallup has pointed out that in fact almost 20% of employees are actively disengaged with their job. Stress-related diseases and disorders are on a rise. The hidden costs of miss hires are estimated to be billions of dollars per year.

Humanistic psychology might have an answer to this problem. As a counter development to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and Skinner’s behaviorism, it challenges the expert paradigm. Humanists believe that the client is the expert about his life – not the therapist. If this is true, it could possibly be applied to recruitment and personnel development processes.

A person who becomes aware of his deeply embedded life interests, skills, behavior, knowledge and talents will be able to make a “perfect-match” decision if all aspects of the job are transparent for him and they are in tune with the job profile and the company’s culture.

Systematically hiring people in this way will lead to engaged employees, innovative working environments and healthy company cultures with great value propositions.

Social technologies and recruitment processes have been developed that make this type of matching process possible. However, they are not mainstream yet.

Challenging Your Current Beliefs

Most importantly, people need to challenge their current paradigms frequently if they wish to develop or reinvent themselves, their business or society in general.

Obviously, every human being has blind spots, and this applies equally to groups of people such as teams, companies, organizations, societies etc. Major shifts can only take place if people and societies face their blind spots and challenge their current paradigms.

As Albert Einstein famously pointed out “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”


In conclusion, at the dawn of – what some consider to be – the fourth industrial revolution, businesses need to challenge mainstream paradigms in order to remain innovative, competitive and to create future perspectives.

A Chinese proverb says: “When the wind of change blows, some build walls, others build windmills.”

It is essential to embrace paradigm shifts in order to foster re-invention processes and to ensure change that is both fundamental and sustainable.


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