Paradigm Blindness in Human Cooperation

Paradigm Blindness in Human Cooperation
Photo by Ava Sol / Unsplash

Recently, the term paradigm blindness came across my path. (It was via my partner who is reading David R. Hawkins book Power vs. Force.) It summed up exactly why I think so few people look deeply at the areas often referred to as 'the economy', 'business' or more simply, human cooperation.

And this is partly why we don't have more innovation and collaboration in these areas! Most of us are 'blind' to even looking at these topics as anything we should be working on improving.

Let's define it so we're all on the same page:

Paradigm blindness is a phenomenon that occurs when individuals become so entrenched in a particular way of thinking or set of beliefs that they are unable to see alternative perspectives or consider alternative explanations for phenomena. (Cortright, 2015).

If we even glance at the state of things in our world, we can see that our needs for humanity have evolved and our ‘tools’ or frameworks for working together have not kept up. This is such an area of opportunity!

To point out exactly where some of our collective paradigm blindness exists, let's compare what we have now with something that could be so much better...

The Old Game

In what we call the Old Game (our current systems), we have a smattering of facts, things we've accepted as cultural norms, and general foolishness that we as humans would NOT tolerate in other areas. Here's a sampling of them:

  • People say things like:  “That's just how business works...” when speaking about negative aspects or externalities of business. (This is a clear statement of paradigm blindness - not open at all to alternative ways of doing things.)
  • If there isn’t a “profitable business model” for what you want to do/ what the world needs, then it’s not really possible to create. (This includes charities, which also need to 'bring in' more in funding than they 'give out').
  • Roughly 80% of U.S. businesses fail. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 20% survive past 20 years in business. (Sounds broken to me… Would you ride in a car that failed 80% of the time? Or have a surgery if the failure rate was 80%?)
  • Access to capital / cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail, and that capital is harder to get and more unfairly distributed than anyone really knows. 
  • Things that shouldn’t exist (that cause harm to people and earth) somehow regularly receive funding and ‘succeed' often. Yet, endeavors that we desperately need and people with the ideas to make them usually go unsupported and those innovations unrealized. 
  • Finally, there’s the startup/ hustle culture phrases that have been said so much the past 15 years that we’ve been conditioned to believe them… “If you’re not succeeding, then you didn’t ______. (fill in the blank with any of these):
    • Find product/market fit
    • Find the right investors or raise money fast enough
    • Get talented enough staff to work for you
    • Work hard enough/ smart enough/ long enough
    • Spend enough or be creative enough marketing through the right channels. 

The New Game

In a New Game, we should have a list that is almost completely opposite of the above points.

  • We need to be saying things like: “Just because business has worked a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean NEW ways of working together aren’t possible or needed. Humanity evolves, and everything we create evolves too.”
  • Business should be a game of human cooperation and exchange - and we can create ANY framework for that which serves our needs. 
If there are 1,000 amazing things that the world needs and humans could work together to create, but only 100 of them are viable with a 'business', what happens to the other 900?
  • The world needs thousands of new innovations, projects and collaborations. Very few of those fit the model to succeed in the old game.  If we have 1,000 important projects on Earth's T0-do List and there’s only 100 of them that have profitable business models, what do we do for the other 900?  Nothing usually.  And that is a HUGE opportunity cost.  We need a New Game for those - a new way to cooperate that serves our collective needs more sustainably.
  • In a New Game, 80% or more of the projects (we call them Co-Labs) would be supported enough not only to succeed, but to give back something extra to those who contributed. 
  • Instead of the capital being scarce and highly centralized, funding is truly “people powered”. We can give to what we want to see more of in the world - things that directly benefit people, animals, and planet. 
    • The outcome of this supportive model is that Innovation and latent Human Value are unlocked! 
  • We don’t need to rely only on the structures of business, charities, or government to make an impact.  We can come together freely, as humans always have, to do things that benefit many. 
  • We need more people who can see through the paradigm blindness and entertain the thought that maybe we didn’t fail - the systems and frameworks we have failed us. If so many businesses can't survive more than a few years in the Old Game, it's time for some new options.

We're passionate about building those new options that help us unlock the possibilities we've been missing out on. If you're also interested in this, we'd love to hear from you! We are bringing people together who want to pioneer, pilot and persuade others to give these new frameworks a try!

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🟧 Wrote Paradigm Blindness draft concept (L) 🖊 |+E|{TW}
🟧 Read about examples of Paradigm blindness in economics (L) 🤓 |+E|{TW}
🟧🟧 Drafted Paradigm blindness blog on Ghost (L) 👩🏻‍💻|+E|{TW}
🟧 Finished & Published Paradigm Blindness Blog Post (L) 👀✅ |+E|{TW}

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