Drastic change is more probable than we realise

A paradigm is a fundamental, unquestioned set of assumptions that determine our worldview. It’s the typical or usual model or pattern that we frame our understanding with. It’s such a part of how we understand things that we hardly even think about it. Until it changes.

The term “paradigm shift” was introduced into our language in 1962 by the scientist Thomas Kuhn. Before Kuhn, scientific discovery was thought to progress continuously, building on what went before over time. Kuhn said that sometimes there is discontinuous change; a massive upheaval in what we thought we knew, and a leap to a new paradigm. After the fact, it’s almost impossible to deny the shift. Nowadays, the majority of us are pretty certain that the earth goes around the sun, but that wasn’t always the case. It took the Copernican revolution, a paradigm shift in how we thought about the cosmos, to force that change.

But still, some people don’t see the change even when it’s happening. They suffer from “paradigm blindness”, where they are unwilling or unable to accept any challenge to their core ways of making sense of the world. When we have entrenched views, we can become very good at filtering out information that does not support our views and assumptions and only allow in information that does. So, how might we prevent paradigm blindness and prepare for discontinuous change?

Futurists think about the future not in terms of certainties but as probabilities. If we think about change in our lives, businesses, and entire world more as probabilities and likelihoods rather than simple will or won’t happen, then we can remove some of those perceptual filters and open ourselves up to seeing change happen. Another Copernican revolution could start tomorrow. Why wouldn’t it? What’s to stop it? Certainly not our outdated beliefs about the continuous nature of change.