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Leading through Paradigm Shifts

Profound paradigm shifts are happening everywhere. Recent crises and long-simmering ones have been both devastating and brilliantly unsettling. Deeply held beliefs about what is possible and how fast change can occur have been uprooted and tossed out – creating both positive and destructive change.

The extraordinarily rapid erosion of democracies around the world due to escalating propagation of disinformation is forcing us to think deeply about what should be regulated. That democracy destruction is also showing us the damage that the combination of free speech and unfettered capitalism has wrought on our core societal infrastructures.

These crises have shown just how fast more than 7 billion people on a small planet can pivot to improve the environment. Within days of the COVID crises shutdown, countries saw dramatic drops in air pollution.

The racial justice movement is uprooting deeply held beliefs about who should hold power, and how power should be held.

These paradigm shifts offer each of us, our organizations, our governments, and the world, opportunities to change ‘as usual,’ which was based on a privileged white male European and British belief system, to ‘as is good for all.’

Consider Buckminister Fuller’s mission for the world:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

We can achieve this mission in our lifetimes. Recent crises have shown us our power to pivot, and also shown us the urgency in undertaking this mission.


About the Author: 

Laura Freebairn-Smith is Partner and Cofounder of OPG.  Laura has been a consultant for such distinguished companies as the New York Times and People’s Bank. Her specialty is assisting leaders in realizing the full potential of their organizations through humanistic and analytical practices, while offering guidance in the redesign of infrastructure, the creation of strategic plans, and with organizational development.