Monday, September 12, 2011

Paradigm Shifts

“In late 1991,” writes Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. in their book, The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time (Currency Doubleday, 1993), “the telegraph industry's life was taken suddenly and brutally, by the facsimile machine. For more than 150 years, the telegram stood for immediacy and importance. It was an icon for urgency. But now, Western Union has closed down its telegraph service around the world. The fax was a new technology the telegram could not survive. The shift from teletype and telegram to facsimile represents one aspect of what business consultants term a "paradigm shift" - a discontinuity in the otherwise steady march of business progress.” Be it the end of the telegraph, the mimeograph or the rotary dial telephone, paradigm shifts happen on a regular basis. Even today, the fax machine has been replaced by e-mail, and many landlines are now being replaced by cell phones. The digital age will continue to be full of paradigm shifts.

When I am teaching the From Vision to Action Leadership Training (, I point out to students that there are typically two different kinds leadership paradigms. Based on an article by Warren Bennis many years ago in Executive Excellence magazine, he notes that there are COP leaders and ACE leaders. The former kind of leaders focus on control, order and predictability. They want to find everything that is wrong and fix it. The later kind of leader focuses on alignment, creativity and empowerment. These leaders capitalize on matching talent and strengths with opportunity and challenges. They build ownership while the former can at times build fear and apprehension.

In my own experience over the years, I think the “A” in the ACE paradigm should also stand for adaptability to change. This is on the personal level, the strategic level and the organizational level. With the early signs of fall weather all around, we need more ACE leaders who have the capacity to handle the current and future paradigm shifts that are taking place in our world. Be they in the technological, environmental or political aspects of our lives, we all know that there will continue to be transformative and significant change in the coming months and years ahead.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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