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Paradigm Shift: How can we change a system or mindset?

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I have been asked countless times by Lean change leaders, “How can we change a system that’s so rigid and entrenched?” Here is an allegorical and hopefully not too arcane answer from one of my reading from some blog:


Life (personal or professional) hinges upon paradigm shifts.  Moments that revolutionize our thought by seemingly inverting the planet on its axis. Such has been true of history. Such is true now. And so it shall be every year in our future. Nobody can deny this fact. We always reflect upon where we have been as a measure of knowing where we are going. Let’s be wise together now…

  • All of mankind once knew the earth was flat. Until they all knew it wasn’t.
  • It was fact that the sun orbited the earth. Until that fact was a lie.
  • Achieving flight in a man-made machine was impossible. Until it flew.
  • Walking on the moon? A fairytale; until that one small step for man.

These epic case studies illustrate one point – life doesn’t advance smoothly or evenly from detail-to-detail, day-to-day. Life leaps from paradigm-shifting-moment to paradigm-shifting-moment, for e.g.: Kaikaku (radical change) on the gemba (shop floor) like Intercultural challenges, value stream maps, etc.  

  • Malcolm Gladwell classifies them as “Tipping Points.”
  • Tim Ferriss (in his new book) calls them “Harajuku Moments.”
  • Seth Godin labels them “Purple Cows.”

Each of these metaphors has its own flavour and I am attempting to showcase that achieving substantial impact is possible by changing if we change our mindset.

The condition of changing our mindsets holds, I think, for our purpose. So let this be our footing as we move forward into the journey of paradigm shift leading to transformation or achieving operational excellence goals. 

But how do you change a system or mindset? We may think it will take an avalanche, but really what’s needed is a gradual movement towards the goal by doing some improvement daily!!!

Employees have to learn to see:

  • The value stream
  • The flow value
  • or The value being pulled by the customer

The final form of seeing is to bring perfection (No picture of perfection can be perfect…here the word perfection denotes an ongoing process of improvement – steps towards perfection) into clear view so the objective of improvement is visible and real to the whole organization. However, the effort to envision the picture of perfection provides inspiration and direction essential to making progress along the path…

Organization or Employees who have never started or taken the path of Paradigm shift because of lack of inspiration or vision obviously have failed or the growth has become stagnant over a period of time. 

Author: Kaizen Institute - India!

Kaizen Institute – India is part of the Global Kaizen Institute operations. Kaizen Institute was established by Sensei Masaaki Imai, the GURU of Kaizen. He wrote the 1st book 28 yrs ago and that is when it all started . We operate in 30+ countries today and have over 400+ coaches helping more then 600 organizations Learn, Apply, Sustain – Kaizen/ Operational Excellence. In India we have two physical offices – Pune & Ahmedabad and 27 coaches in all.

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