Measurement & Instrumentation

Paradigms, Parents, and Podcasting

by Katherine Burns 03 Aug 2012
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Every once in a while, you read something that really blows your hair back. Few things are better than having a moment of enlightenment – having a new idea presented to you that helps you make sense of your world in a better, simpler, way.

That’s what happened to me when I came across a book from the 1960s entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This book’s author, Thomas Kuhn, argued that periodically practitioners of a shared discipline find that the framework (or paradigm) in which they operate has been undermined by a series of events that cannot be explained by the prevailing paradigm. If they continue to accumulate, these incidents combine to create a state of crisis. Out of the crisis and the chaos come a revolution and out of that an altogether new paradigm – a new way of looking at the world, a new framework for working, existing, and thinking.

What an incredibly simple, but sophisticated, concept: a period of stability, followed by a period of chaos, followed by a new order of things. I know the phrase “paradigm shift” is no longer new, but that didn’t make it any less earth-shattering to me when I first came across it.

This idea has deeply, fundamentally affected the way I look at things, and it certainly affected my approach to writing the growth process toolkit for technology strategy, which I have discussed in my two previous blogs. We are living through a paradigm shift right now – each of us trying to make sense of the chaos and searching for clues of what the new paradigm will be.

Funnily enough, my own life is in the midst of something of a paradigm shift itself. I’m already a mother to a wonderful two-year-old boy, and I am about to have a daughter. My stable world will soon, to quote myself, find itself in a state of chaos. What will the new paradigm look like?

And what is my daughter’s paradigm going to be? How will she look at the world? What truths will govern it? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what do I want to teach her? What do I want her to like (hint: old movies, Esther Williams, sparkles)? What do I want her to not like (hint: scary movies, New York Giants, sugar)? What things do I really want her to believe? At the risk of falling into platitudes, I thought I’d share a few of my lessons with you all (no guffaws or eye-rolling allowed, I don’t care if it’s cyberspace).

Fred Astaire made it look easy. The lesson: the harder you work, the more effortless it will seem. There is no substitute for hours upon hours of practice, frustration, setbacks, and breakthroughs. Talent alone is one step above laziness.

Find your brilliance. My dad used to tell me, you’re probably not going to be a genius at everything. But you might be lucky enough to be a genius at one thing. Have the courage to run at that strength with everything you’ve got.

Use your words. The English language is a wondrous thing. Treat it with respect. Learn your grammar. Diagram sentences. Speak properly. Write beautifully. Read E.B. White and P.G. Wodehouse. Listen to Cole Porter.

Daddy’s wrong about Mommy’s movies. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s outdated. I know there’s something to be said for special effects, but could any technology of today improve upon Gone With the Wind? I rest my case. The past is a treasure trove of awesomeness.

Every day is a happy day. Start every day believing that it will be better than the one preceding it. Never think you’ve peaked. What was the line from Anne of Green Gables? Each new day is a new beginning, with “no mistakes in it.” Isn’t that comforting?

Anyway, this is sort of my blogging swan song, at least until November. So with that, I leave you all with a few thoughts:

1)     I just recorded a podcast revisiting the concept of technology strategy (its opportunities and risks, success stories and cautionary tales), and I’d love for you all to take a listen. Please forgive my voice – I’ve been battling laryngitis. My husband says I just talk too much.

2)     If the toolkits seem interesting to you, take note: There are 10 of them! You can see them all here.

3)     If you’re not a member of Growth Team Membership, and therefore can’t access these materials but would like to, let us know.

4)     Enjoy the Olympics! Enjoy Halloween! I’ll see you at Thanksgiving!

As always, happy computing.

Katherine Burns

Katherine is the Director of Strategic Communications for Growth Team Membership, a premier best practices research group within Frost & Sullivan. You can follow her on Twitter: @KatherineSBurns.

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Comments (1)

By  Dan Goldenberg

08 Aug 2012 12:49

Great blog, less the mistake about the Giants!  Look forward to the next one...

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