Tag Archive for 'paradigm shift'

Your future and customer paradigms

In his book, Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future, futurist Joel Barker explains that paradigms are filters through which humans view the world and around which we pursue our lives.

Things that align with our paradigms sail right through; otherwise they meet resistance. A favorite color, for example, is a paradigm.

We also establish marketplace paradigms. Perhaps the most interesting paradigm dynamic is between a customer and a business, because a customer’s product paradigm logically becomes a business’s production paradigm.

Product paradigms always work for customers because they can pick and choose at will. But for a business, a production paradigm comes with significant risks, because they can be left with an investment – physically, financially and emotionally – in a newly unviable production paradigm.

When there is a paradigm disruption – like customers changing preferences – that’s called a shift. Barker says when a paradigm shifts, everything goes back to zero; what once worked so well becomes unavailable or obsolete.

When a shift occurs – the ability to buy stocks online, for example – customers easily transition to the new thing that likely caused the shift. But for a business with multi-faceted investments in the old paradigm – only stockbrokers can place stock orders – such a shift can be expensive and dangerously disruptive.

In the past I’ve introduced you to several examples of how the marketplace is transitioning from The Age of the Seller to The Age of the Customer™. This transformation is creating a number of shifts which are at once exciting for some and disruptive for others.

In the new Age, there are three primary shifts a business must now monitor constantly; each associated with a key element of customer relationships.

The Buying Decision
Customers have always controlled the buying decision element, but they now need less decision-making help from a business. The paradigm shift question: “How do we prevent our marketing and sales strategy from becoming obsolete?”

The Information
Previously controlled by businesses, access to information is now almost completely controlled by the customer. The paradigm shift question: “How do we maintain a relevant value proposition?”

The Product
Once controlled by the business, customers increasingly influence product development. The paradigm shift question: “How do we love what we do without loving how we do it?”

Discover the future by monitoring customer paradigms.


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Small business and 21st century paradigm shifts

As we engage the world, at least the parts that touch us, we establish – or are taught to establish – what futurist Joel Barker (www.joelbarker.com) calls filters. Barker says we use these filters to accept some parts of the world and reject others. These filters ultimately create the paradigms through which, as Barker says, “we view the world.” And once established, whether feasible or flawed, we actually learn how to live and work, often successfully, with our paradigms.

But let’s look at that “feasible or flawed” aspect of paradigms. The flawed paradigm will typically take care of itself because it requires more maintenance and will likely have a shorter life. A flawed paradigm will quickly create problems for its holder but not for too long.

It’s the feasible paradigms we should worry about because they’re the ones upon which fortunes have been made and belief systems established. The buggy whip had a long life as a successful propulsion paradigm, as did the newspaper want ad as an effective way to reach prospects.

The danger of a feasible paradigm is that, as we learn from the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, everything has a time to be and a time not to be. But once money, generations of time and effort, and yes, even faith have been invested in a particular paradigm, like a buggy whip or a want ad, it’s difficult for the holders of that paradigm to accept the reality and inevitability of change.

But as Ecclesiastes promises, change will come. And when it does, it creates what Barker calls a Paradigm Shift, at which time “everything goes back to zero.” The automobile was the paradigm shift for buggy whip manufacturers, as the Internet has created a shift for newspapers.

We live in an era when paradigms are shifting all around us in unprecedented numbers. Some shifts are natural – caused by the human intellectual journey, and some are self-imposed – created prematurely by human imperfections and deficiencies. Regardless of the cause, paradigm shifts are our reality; and unless we want to get run over by them, we have to deal with the new paradigms as they reveal themselves, hopefully, before a shift.

Having learned so much from Joel Barker from his books and films, it was a great day for me when he became a member of my Brain Trust as a regular guest on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Recently Joel was a guest again, and we talked about paradigms and some of the shifts that are happening right now. Don’t miss this interview with one of the the great thinkers of our time. And of course, leave a comment and I’ll make sure Joel sees it.

Small business and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)

Almost 10 years ago I told the audience of my small business radio program that when broadband Internet connections – in those days we called them “the big pipes” – were diffused in the marketplace, the world will change. And so it has. Today, broadband Internet is everywhere, and it accounts for more than 75% of all Internet connections, including more than half of U.S. households.

But the news is not just how we connect – DSL from the phone companies, cable modems, 3G from the wireless companies, etc. – but also the connectivity applications that are a productive reality today and exciting possibilities for tomorrow. And these applications are creating paradigm shifts that are changing the world.

One very interesting 21st century technology is Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP). In its simplest form, you make a regular phone call with a classic phone set, but instead of using the 19th century technology of twisted copper phone lines, you connect over an Internet connection and conversion application offered by providers such as Vonage, Magic Jack, etc. Now take this to the next level by converging your contact management application, a microphone/headset and VoIP, and you’re making voice calls to customers by clicking a mouse instead of dialing and holding a handset. And of course, the quantum leap is not having any kind of phone set on your desk – all calls are routed through your computer and broadband connection. That would be a paradigm hat trick, wouldn’t it? A competitive shift, a cultural shift and an ergonomic shift.

Even though we already have computer-based Internet voice connections with Instant Messaging applications and, of course, there’s Skype, which I use a lot, VoIP is really just now coming into its own. In the very near future watch for the complete shifting of all of our telephony paradigms to take place right in front of our eyes. And for small businesses this will be an exciting time because these shifts will create opportunities for lowering costs and increasing capabilities.

Someone who is an expert on the topic of VoIP and related applications is Leslie Ferry, V.P. of Broadsoft. Recently she joined me on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to discuss what we can get out of VoIP today and what we can expect in the future. I think you’ll learn a lot from our conversation. And leave a comment about your thoughts on VoIP.

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