Six (6) Humongous Paradigm Changes

A paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn (1922–1996), is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline.

“When something changes more than two degrees of magnitude, it needs a new name” - Dr. Michael Hammer

Hold on to your seat belt, we’re experiencing an unprecedented magnitude of simultaneous changes coming at us at an astounding rate of acceleration. And the ride is already bumpy.

At this point we’re all used to change, it’s part of our daily lives. But it’s mostly gradual change. As a result we have many words for small changes: incremental, progressive, steady, and step-wise.

But there are fewer words for big change. Some have even needed to be invented, such as “reengineering”, to express the totality of a revolutionary level of disruption.

What we have today are paradigm-busting changes. Catalyzed by the blazing evolution of IT and its direct result – globalization, every single organization is experiencing a trifecta of acceleration, complexity, and novelty. This strange brew is manifesting a new set of six (6) humongous paradigm changes.


Humpty Dumpty must be put back together in a new way!

Fragmentation requires integration, now more than ever. Work is now conducted by teams separated by distance and organizational boundaries. Internal teams are scattered across departments and countries. And hundreds of external providers, suppliers, and partners, are critical to profitability and productivity. The value of a business is no longer measured by counting internal resources.

"The value of a business is the collective capabilities of its network of partners."

To coordinate work activities, we’re unsuccessfully trying to use project-specific chat apps, instant messaging, shared folders, ineffective meetings, and e-mailing. This multitude of media has caused even more fragmentation of information and people.

We’ve entered the age where savvy business leaders are yearning for ways to reorganize and re-orchestrate work activities throughout their value-chain, and integrate critical information throughout internal and external participants.

For most, their initial focus on sharing data and chat streams has not worked. Sharing and chatting do not equal “getting things done.”

When the boss wants a progress report, they don’t want the status of shared documents or chat streams. The boss wants to know the status of processes and processes in-flight. Are we on-time, on-goal, on-budget, on-quality?

Now companies must focus on orchestrating and automating the discrete processes that coordinate how people and systems work together. You can hear this yearning through overused and misused buzzwords like “orchestration” and “collaboration.”


Everything is all about data.

Hardware and software are just means of getting good data. But today we’re overwhelmed by our pursuit of more and more data, hoping more data will be the savior that leads us to better decisions.

Contemporary data sources come in two flavors, structured and unstructured. • Structured data comes in rows and columns like spreadsheets and databases. • Unstructured data comes in e-mail, documents, instant messaging, and sensors (IoT)

We’ve entered the age where we’re measuring everything in the physical world, transforming physical into digital bits and bytes. We’re digitizing everything from our homes to our health. But this pervasive explosion of fragmented and conflicting data leaves us searching for a single source of INTEGRATED TRUTH.

And even while department managers cry out for data integration they continue the failed practice of purchasing single-purpose app (system) from the big-dog vendor that creates yet another isolated silo of data and functionality.

To realize our dream of integrated information we have to stop viewing every problem through a data-centric prism and start seeing things through process-centric thinking.


We ain’t seen nothing yet!

The real scale of work AUTOMATION is fast approaching. We’re automating more repetitive tasks that used to be performed by people. No longer can businesses tolerate the expense and preventable errors caused by repetitive organic-robotic processes. From mortgage workflows, to engineering change orders (ECO), processes that were moved along manually via e-mail and tracked on spreadsheets, no longer deliver the speed, savings, customer delight, and quality required.

Robots are now performing more complicated tasks, like surgery, previously thought to only be possible by human hands. The man-machine boundary is being redefined as we automate more complex tasks that were reserved for human-only skill.

But at its core AUTOMATION is about improving productivity, savings, and quality of the processes that make a business run.


The biggest corporate lie, “People are our most important asset” must now become real instead of a mendacious cliché.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), speech recognition, machine learning, and other cognitive technologies can now augment human tasks to find answers hidden in big data sets and the flood of information flows overwhelming us.

We’ve entered the age where data is believed to contain insights that can predict the future. But we forget that all the data is only about past events. Predicting the future even one day in advance is still impossible. Just ask a meteorologist about forecasting the weather in New England, even with the latest algorithms, historical models, and AI.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), cognitive systems and big data each promise “actionable intelligence.”

Transforming “intelligence” into results requires people (employees & partners) to take coordinated “actions” along pre-defined workflow pathways. Humans are still the most important resource in any value creation chain.


The rules keep changing. Every industry must comply with changing regulations that govern how they conduct business locally and globally. Organizations of all sizes are impacted. Privacy laws enacted in Europe affect business in other countries. More stringent financial regulations govern monetary transactions that happen in microseconds and trillions of times every day. Healthcare privacy laws vary from country to country.

Auditing once a year does not ensure regulatory compliance. Auditing only samples past transactions and makes recommendations to improve imperfect compliance. The latest wave of regulations are aimed at ensuring compliance is built into each business process, to protect against things like fraud, identity theft, or privacy violations.

For example, in the USA we have Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act governing financial regulations and HIPPA rules protecting health data portability and privacy. And in May 2018 companies will be impacted by new European Union (EU) privacy laws, called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that bring order to a patchwork of privacy rules across the European Union.


Power is inexorably flowing downstream and customers are the beneficiaries. The golden rule is “those who have the gold, make the rules.”

We’ve seen this shift before, but this time the customer-seller relationship is blurred.

In the past, vendors offered solutions and the customer picked their preferred vendor. Now the boundary between customer and vendor/service provider is more intimate. Customers are now active participants with the vendors during the selection, purchase, customization, and implementation of equipment and services.

If you’re in denial about these six paradigm shifts, beware.

If you think going slow will work well, good luck.

And if you’re not acknowledging and leveraging these six big changes, you’ll soon be a victim of them. The biggest risk is taking it slow and indecision..

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